Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has a wide range of benefits. It will relieve most of the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. These include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Bladder issues
- Low sex drive or libido
- ‘Brain fog’
- Joint aches and pains
- Disturbed sleep
- Risk of heart disease and stroke
- Hair thinning and skin changes
Most women will suffer from hot flushes whilst they go through the menopause. This can
start long before the periods stop and can last for many years after that. On average they
will last for at least two years after the cessation of periods, but may last up to a decade.
Hot flushes feel like a sudden heat wave that seems to rise from within and spread all over
the body. It is understood that the decline of the estrogen hormone in the body is
responsible for disturbing the body’s thermostatic control, which then leads to hot flushes.
Hot flushes may also be associated with palpitations, sweating and feelings of anxiety.
HRT helps relieve these symptoms very effectively, but it is important to discuss this with
your doctor as these symptoms may be a sign of another disorder, for example thyroid
Some women ask if hot flushes return after stopping HRT, and the answer is that they are
considerably milder than those experienced when one’s own natural estrogen is declining. It
is a general belief amongst women that they might as well suffer hot flushes now and get it
over with than go through it 10 years down the line. The reality, however, is that not only
will the flushes be less intense later, but you would have been given quality of life benefits
during use of HRT. The choice therefore is yours.
HRT can ease the symptoms of excessive night sweating. This is an unpleasant symptom of
menopause that leads to soaking of night clothes and bedding. This then results in disturbed
sleep and sleep deprivation.
The altering levels of estrogen and progesterone during the perimenopause and menopause can cause mood swings. Women may experience being happy one minute and then angry the next. Additionally, they may suffer from low mood, poor motivation and lack of energy, all of which are eased with HRT.
Hormone replacement therapy will help improve all of the following symptoms related to vaginal dryness such as:
- Experiencing pain and itchiness in and around the vagina
- Feeling pain and discomfort during sex
- Needing to urinate more frequently, with poor bladder control
- Recurrent cystitis and urinary tract infections
Reduced levels of estrogen during menopause lead to disruption of healthy lining of the bladder. As the quality of collagen and elastin is impaired it means that the bladder lining has less resilience and support. This may lead to frequent cystitis and urinary tract infections. You may also find that the bladder is very sensitive and associated with urgent feelings to urinate.
These symptoms are often referred to as the FUN symptoms:
- Frequency: the regularity of needing to urinate
- Urgency: the need to run to the toilet
- Nocturia: the need to pass urine a few times in the night
Those who suffer from these symptoms know that they are all but fun. Fortunately, in the absence of any contraindications they can be treated by systemic or topical hormone therapy.
All women find that they leak a little bit of urine when they laugh or sneeze; this is normal. However, after menopause this can become more frequent and unpleasant. This is referred to as stress incontinence and can be eased by both topical and systemic hormone replacement treatment. Discuss this option with your doctor to see if that it is the right route for you or contact Dr. Saadia Meyer’s clinic to gain more information.
Reduced Sex Drive or Libido
A woman’s sex drive is a very complex function. Women experiencing perimenopause and
menopause may notice a change in their desire, despite all being seemingly well in their
relationships. The cause for this is their changing hormones.
During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen and testosterone levels start to decline.
Both of these play a vital role in our innate libido. Reduced levels can blunt sexual desire.
Nature decides that menopause is the end of our reproductive and hence our sexual career.
Irrespective of the fact that we are sexually active or not our desire will be affected. This may
not be the situation most women desire.
Reducing ‘Brain Fog’
Many women going through perimenopause and menopause suddenly start to notice that they they struggle to remember things and think clearly. This is generally described as brain fog by women.
Symptoms include difficulty with:
- Multi tasking
- Word finding
- Recalling names
- Remembering where things are (glasses, keys, etc.)
- Doing tasks and not remembering that they have already been done
- Learning new things
- Organizing thoughts
All of the above are a result of fluctuating estrogen levels seen most commonly in the perimenopause and early menopause stages.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Estrogen has the unique ability to maintain bone health in a woman’s body like no other
substance – it allows body cells to take old bone away and replace it with new, healthy
bone, therefore maintaining a healthy bone cycle.
However, with the decline of estrogen in our body experienced during menopause, our
bones become thinner and more hollow. Generally, women lose 5 per cent of their bone
mass in the first year of menopause and 1 per cent every year after that. This is described as
osteopenia in the initial stages and osteoporosis in the later stages.
Medications like bisphosphonates are prescribed either when women have suffered
fractures or are at risk of fractures. These only harden the bone and do not allow for old
bone to be replaced by new bone. They can lead to a condition called BRONJ or
bisphosphonate related osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is a complication of bone health
encountered by dentists during any treatment of a patient’s teeth.
HRT prevents bone thinning and reduces the risk of fractures in menopausal and
perimenopausal women. It allows for good posture by maintaining the vertebral column or
Reduced Joint Aches and Pain
As estrogen is the hormonal molecule that is paramount in maintaining connective tissue health, it plays a crucial role in maintaining joints and muscles. Aches and pain that women suffer during menopause seem to improve with hormone replacement therapy and greater mobility is regained.
Another result of menopause is the negative effects on the sleeping patterns. Many women describe as being absolutely exhausted yet laying wide awake in bed. Other women may become light sleepers or start waking up far earlier in the morning than they usually do or would like to.
More sleep disturbance can be caused by the above-mentioned night sweats, hot flushes and bladder problems resulting in the need to pass urine during the night. These symptoms can be helped with hormone therapy.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
There is evidence that risk of heart disease and stroke in women may be reduced when estrogen replacement is taken between the age of 50 to 59 years.
Hair Thinning and Skin Changes
HRT helps maintain scalp hair growth and skin. Estrogen deficiency may lead to dryness, itching, dermatitis, and poor skin quality over time.