Hormone Replacement Q & A
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) provides a woman with replacement hormones to relieve some of the uncomfortable or inconvenient symptoms of menopause. The goal of HRT is to reduce or alleviate the symptoms associated with hormone loss during menopause. The physician will review a woman’s symptoms, prescribe an appropriate amount of hormones according to her needs, and monitor HRT to ensure the patient’s improvement and safety.
What Symptoms Are Caused by Declining Hormone Levels?
While there are common symptoms associated with menopause, each woman has a unique experience as she goes through this change of life. The decline in hormone production that occurs as a woman ages can cause unwanted symptoms. A woman may experience:
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Facial hair growth
- Mood swings
- Increased risk for osteoporosis
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in sex
What Types of HRT Are Available?
HRT used to address most symptoms associated with hormonal decline can be prescribed in the form of pills, sprays, creams, gels, and patches. HRT is considered the most effective way to treat and prevent menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal symptoms including dryness, itching, and discomfort during intercourse. Vaginal estrogen-based creams are also available. These are used to treat symptoms such as vaginal dryness and painful intercourse in addition to providing some relief from urinary incontinence. However, they do not provide the same relief from night sweats, moodiness, hot flashes, or osteoporosis as the other forms.
What are bio-identical hormones?
Bio-identical hormone therapy refers to the replacement of hormones which are naturally produced by the body. Many of these bioidentical hormones are produced in specialty pharmacies, called compound pharmacies. Although some believe these compounded hormones are natural and healthier, the dosages of these therapies are not regulated. Therefore, a woman is likely not to be getting consistent doses of hormones with these compounded therapies, which can be potentially more harmful. There are only a few bioidentical hormones which are produced by regulated pharmaceutical companies. The providers at San Francisco Women’s Healthcare can review these therapies and prescribe appropriate individual hormone replacement.