Women’s Wellness Center
Menopause & Hormone Replacement Therapy
Menopause may represent the end of a woman’s reproductive years, but it also represents a new stage in our lives . . . no more monthly cycles, no pregnancy concerns, and the freedom to embrace life with the maturity, grace, and dignity we’ve gained.
The Timing of Menopause
The average age for a woman to have her last period is around 51, but it’s normal for menopause to occur any time from ages 40 to 59. Doctors define menopause as 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle, but the progression of menopause is a gradual one that can take several years.
Symptoms of perimenopause or pre-menopause can begin as early as 10-15 years before you have your last period. In addition, a woman who has not begun menopause who has both of her ovaries removed – such as during a hysterectomy – undergoes surgical menopause.
Hormone changes that happen around menopause affect every woman differently. Some women seem to breeze through menopause with few symptoms, but the majority of women, 70 percent, experience some typical symptoms as they approach menopause.
Loss of Libido
For some women, the symptoms can be severe enough to disrupt their lives and emotional well-being.
When to See Your Doctor or Care Provider
It’s time to see a medical professional when you begin to notice the first changes in your periods – if they become unusually heavy, irregular, or last longer than normal for you. However, don’t assume if you miss a couple of periods, the cause is automatically menopause. Your care provider will need to rule out pregnancy or other health issues.
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of menopause, don’t suffer in silence - there are medications and other therapies that can lessen these symptoms.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
As you go through the process of menopause, your body produces less and less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one way to end or lessen the unwanted side effects of menopause. In HRT, estrogen or estrogen with progestin – another hormone – takes the place of the hormones your body used to produce.
We offer both conventional and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Conventional HRT involves taking standardized doses of hormones daily, usually in pill or patch form. Bioidentical hormones – which mimic the hormones produced by the body – are made from naturally-occurring plant products and are usually applied to the skin as a cream or gel.
The decision to take hormone replacement therapy or not must be individual to each woman. You and your doctor should discuss your specific risks and benefits before committing to HRT.
Benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy
For those women being treated with estrogen alone, research has found what may be significant benefits after five years of use, including better glucose control resulting in a reduction in the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, fewer fractures, better bladder control, and reduced risk for heart disease.
HRT or Not?For years, doctors recommended hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women to reduce symptoms. But in 2002, the preliminary results from a single clinical study – the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – suggested higher than acceptable complication rates for women on hormone replacement.
The goal of the WHI was to try one strength of an oral drug, either Premarin or Prempro, to see if it prevented heart attacks and stroke. The study was not about the signs and symptoms of menopause and related diseases, including diabetes and osteoporosis. Earlier studies in menopausal women who individualized their hormones with the help of their care provider to treat specific symptoms and conditions found generally favorable outcomes for hormone therapy.
Since the initial release of the survey, we have determined that most of the complications occurred in women who were 10 and 20 years beyond menopause and were restarted on hormones. Overall, hormone users in their 50’s were healthier than non-users.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the North American Menopause Society, and the Endocrine Society have discussed the benefits and risks of hormone therapy in much more favorable terms, especially for women younger than 65.
UT Health Northeast
As part of the world renowned University of Texas System, we have provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment for over 60 years. Our patients appreciate the convenience of having their physicians’ offices, a 24-hour emergency room, lab and radiology, and a hospital all at one location with free and convenient parking.
Patient care at UT Health Northeast is Far From Ordinary, but Close to Home.
To schedule a new patient appointment or for more information about the UT Health Northeast Women’s Wellness Center, please call (903) 877-7826.