Menopause is a normal biological process that all women go through as they reach a certain age. While menopause itself doesn’t require treatment, it comes with uncomfortable symptoms that affect a menopausal woman’s daily life. If the menopausal symptoms become unbearable for you, it might be a good time to consult a physician about taking hormone therapy.
So what are the signs that tell menopausal women that they need hormone replacement therapy? Women who are near or in their menopause years often experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance including changes in menstrual period, hot flushes, poor vaginal health, low sexual drive, mood changes, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness, and a few physical changes.
Menopause is defined as the absence of a menstrual cycle for at least 12 consecutive months. It’s a normal part of aging in women that occurs because their sex hormone levels decline. The ovaries also stop releasing egg cells, which means that women can’t get pregnant anymore.
Most women experience menopause during their 40s or 50s, but around 1% of women go through premature menopause even if they haven’t reached 40 yet. Women usually start noticing changes in their bodies about a few months or years before they reach menopause. These symptoms are caused by hormone deficiency in the body, which is why most doctors recommend HRT to help patients relieve pain and discomfort.
Want to find out if you’re a candidate for HRT? Here are eight menopause symptoms that tell you to start considering hormone replacement therapy:
Irregular periods are one of the most common signs that women are approaching menopause. Their menstrual cycle comes either less or more often. It might also be heavier or lighter and last shorter or longer than the previous one.
Perimenopausal women often find it hard to predict when their period starts or how long it lasts. It also gets harder to gauge whether the flow is light or heavy. The chances of getting pregnant also lower, but it’s still possible as long as they have their period.
Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy may find that their periods become irregular, but this is completely normal. On the other hand, postmenopausal women shouldn’t experience bleeding or even spotting. If this happens, make sure to talk to a doctor immediately about unexplained vaginal bleeding.
A hot flash is the sudden warmness that patients feel in their upper body — typically over the face, chest, and neck. This condition also causes the skin to sweat and redden. Some people also experience a rapid heartbeat because of a hot flash. These symptoms usually last for 1 to 5 minutes, which are followed by shivers or sudden coldness.
Hot flashes might happen any time of the day, but they’re most common during the night (“night sweats”). Some women experience severe night sweats that cause them to wake up in the middle of the night.
Hot flashes are caused by changing hormone levels. Estrogen deficiency in the body causes the hypothalamus to be more sensitive to changes in body temperature. Even the slightest rise in body temperature causes the hypothalamus to create a hot flash in an attempt to “cool down.”
Vaginal atrophy (or “atrophic vaginitis”) is a condition that causes drying, thinning, and inflammation of the vaginal wall. This is a result of the hormone imbalance in the body, particularly the lack of enough oestrogen.
Vaginal dryness is a common problem among women after their menopause, but women in their perimenopause and menopause phases may also experience this. Atrophic vaginitis makes intercourse painful. It also leads to some discomfort for patients whenever they urinate. Since it causes both urinary and vaginal symptoms, most doctors use the term “genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM)” to describe atrophic vaginitis.
Regular sexual activity helps prevent the risk of vaginal atrophy because it increases the blood circulation in the area to keep the vaginal tissues healthy. Patients may also talk to a medical professional about using estrogen therapy to restore the menopausal hormones in their bodies.
Low sex drive and libido are directly related to the hormone imbalance of the body. These hormones dictate a person’s performance and the pleasure they feel during intercourse. The lack of testosterone in men and progesterone and estrogen in women often leads to intimacy problems for most couples.
Hormonal imbalance in women usually occurs during and after pregnancy, as well as during their menopause. As the estrogen levels drop, the vaginal tissues become dry. Most women also become less interested in sex during this period. Some of them might still experience satisfying intercourse, but most women suffer from low libido whenever their estrogen levels are low.
Estrogen pills and other types of hormone replacement therapy help women balance their hormone levels for healthier vaginal tissues and improved sexual drive. However, it’s important to remember that HRT doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so make sure to use contraceptives during sex.
Several factors affect a person’s mood, including hormone imbalance. While mood changes are normal for some individuals, frequent and severe mood swings are a sign of hormone fluctuation. Women who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety might experience worse symptoms as they reach menopause age.
Estrogen helps regulate different hormones in the body including the ones responsible for boosting a person’s mood — dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. With less estrogen in the body, there aren’t enough hormones to regulate and improve an individual’s mood which leaves them to feel irritable or sad.
Menopausal hormone therapy helps improve a patient’s mood by stabilizing the hormone levels in the body. However, this shouldn’t be considered as an alternative treatment for other patients who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Talking to a physician helps patients decide if the best treatment for them is HRT, antidepressants, or psychotherapy.
Menopausal women are at risk of developing sleep disorders like sleep apnea because of the low estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that consists of involuntary breathing pauses throughout the night. Some patients also experience choking sensations at night because of sleep apnea.
Hot flashes are also another reason why many menopausal women find it hard to sleep at night. These two conditions disrupt sleep, affecting their overall health. The lack of a good night’s sleep also dampens a person’s mood and impairs their focus.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night because of vasomotor symptoms, make sure to consult with a medical professional as soon as possible. Hormone replacement therapy is a helpful treatment that relieves different menopausal symptoms by restoring hormone balance in the body.
Memory problems and impaired focus are common for menopausal women. It’s normal for them to forget where they put their keys or why they entered a room. Forgetfulness is also a result of too much stress, but make sure to consult with a medical professional if you feel that you’re forgetting too much.
Women in the early stage of menopause are also more vulnerable to cognitive issues compared with postmenopausal women. According to the study published by The North American Menopause Society, women’s memory improved after going through menopause.
But for those who experience moderate to severe memory loss during menopause, low-dose menopausal hormone therapy might be helpful. However, it’s also important to remember that this kind of treatment is associated with many risks including colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease, venous thromboembolism, and more.
Make sure to talk to a medical professional first to make sure that the benefits of HRT outweigh its risks. It also helps to find a trusted doctor who administers safe and effective HRT.
Women also experience a few physical changes as they reach menopause. For example, their hair becomes thin and their skin becomes dry. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for keeping the skin moisturized and plump. Without enough estrogen in the body, many women experience hair loss and crepey skin.
Some women also start noticing unwanted facial hair in their chin and upper lip. This is usually caused by the high levels of androgen in the body, but it might also be a result of a disorder that affects the ovaries of the adrenal glands.
Weight loss is also another common menopausal symptom that many women dread. The fat distribution in the body is mainly affected by the amount of estrogen. Women in their childbearing age usually store fat in their lower body, while menopausal women store them around the abdomen.
Menopausal hormone therapy might help prevent some of these symptoms from occurring. HRT balances the important hormones in the body to prevent hair loss, dry skin, and unwanted facial hair. HRT combined with low doses of testosterone is also helpful for building muscle mass, improving weight distribution, and increasing bone density.
Menopause is an important phase in every woman’s life because it brings a lot of changes to their bodies. It also marks the end of their menstrual cycles. Most women experience menopause in their 40s or 50s, but the national average is 51 years old.
Menopause is often accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms, which is why patients seek different types of hormone replacement therapy with the help of medical professionals.
Menopause is a natural process triggered by the body’s production of fewer hormones and the ovary’s aging. But there are also instances where menopause happens earlier than normal, such as:
Natural menopause occurs in three distinct stages that are accompanied by different symptoms:
This phase usually occurs about 10 years before the actual menopause. During this stage, the ovaries start to produce less estrogen. Perimenopause usually occurs during a woman’s 40s, but some of them experience symptoms in their 30s as well.
Perimenopause lasts until the ovaries stop releasing eggs permanently. In the last two years of perimenopause, women experience a rapid decline in their estrogen levels. They might still have menstrual cycles and get pregnant during this period.
Menopause is medically defined as the absence of menstrual cycles for at least 12 consecutive months. During this stage, the ovaries no longer release eggs. The body also starts producing more estrogen during menopause than perimenopause.
In the post-menopause stage, women no longer bleed because of menstrual cycles. The menopausal symptoms like hot flashes also start easing down. But since post-menopausal women have significantly less amount of estrogen in their bodies, they become more vulnerable to several health conditions like bone loss (osteoporosis) and coronary heart disease. Taking estrogen pills or other types of HRT, along with healthy lifestyle changes, helps reduce the risks of these diseases.
There are several ways to diagnose menopause in women, but the most common method is to review the menstrual cycle over the previous year. The doctor might also perform different tests to rule out the possibility of pregnancy or other health conditions.
Some doctors perform blood tests that check the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in the body. However, this test isn’t accurate because normal hormone fluctuations might affect the results. Most of the time, blood tests aren’t necessary for diagnosing menopause in women. Patients only need to talk to a doctor about their menstrual cycles and the symptoms they experienced.
Women become more vulnerable to different health risks after going through menopause, which is why they’re often advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the most common health conditions that post-menopausal women might develop:
Hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment that helps women replace the important hormones in their bodies with synthetic ones like estradiol, progestin, and progestogen. However, this treatment also comes with certain risks, so it's important to consult a doctor first before starting HRT.
Hormone replacement therapy comes in a variety of types, depending on how they’re taken or which hormones each medication contains. Doctors might prescribe combined therapy or estrogen therapy alone for different patients.
This type of treatment combines doses of estrogen and progestin (the synthetic version of progesterone). It’s recommended for patients who still have their uterus because it reduces the risk of developing endometrial cancer. Progestin is typically used for birth control, but it’s also helpful in alleviating menopausal symptoms. The most common form of combined hormone therapy is oral HRT.
This type of HRT uses compounded bioidentical hormones like micronized progesterone that are derived from plants. The most common form of BHRT is pellet therapy that involves implanting pellets underneath the skin of the patient’s buttocks. The implants slowly release small doses of man-made hormones to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
Most manufacturers of BHRT medications claim that their products are safer than traditional HRT. However, there isn’t enough evidence to back this claim. Both BHRT and traditional HRT pose the same risks and complications to menopausal patients.
The biggest drawback of HRT is that it’s accompanied by different risks for patients. For example, breast cancer risk increases for patients who take combined HRT for more than 5 years. These patients are also at risk of developing stroke or heart disease.
Venous thrombosis refers to the blood clots inside the veins. Women under 50 years old have an increased risk of this condition if they’re taking oral HRT for their menopausal symptoms. The risk is also higher for patients who are in the first two years of their therapy.
It’s normal for patients to become doubtful of treatment once they hear about the possible complications. However, HRT remains the most effective procedure for restoring hormone balance to the body. Luckily, there are a few ways to help minimize the risks of HRT complications like:
Menopause is a normal biological process, but it doesn’t mean women have to endure painful symptoms especially if it starts affecting their daily lives. Here at Revitalize You MD, we offer safe and effective hormone replacement therapy to free your body from the different effects of aging.
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