Finding Balance: Hormone Replacement Therapy’s Impact on Menopausal Symptoms

Night sweats and hot flashes are both symptoms that impact many women as they transition into menopause. They might start during the perimenopausal period, which spans the start of symptoms to the one-year mark following the final menstrual period a woman has that confirms menopause, or they might happen during the postmenopausal years. Fortunately, both of these symptoms might be manageable through hormone replacement therapy.


Hormone Therapy Can Help


Night sweats can be so bad that they soak your clothing and bedding, interrupting your sleep. Sweating is usually a vital physical function to maintain a cool temperature inside your body. Still, night sweats can seem like sudden heat waves involving elevated heart rate and red skin. You might wake up with a cold sweat and wonder what’s happening. Night sweats happen a lot with menopause, but they might indicate more serious problems requiring medical treatment if they occur with other symptoms.


Hot flashes are similar in that they might involve sweating and sudden feelings of warmth. They tend to happen in the upper body, with the highest intensity levels around the chest, neck, and head. Losing too much heat might make you feel chilly afterward.


Night sweats and hot flashes are both reasons why many women start hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT. Vaginal dryness is another motivating symptom. Systemic HT usually centers around estrogen supplementation, which might include progestin. Replacing lost or changing hormones alleviates these symptoms and can also prevent bone loss, known as osteoporosis.


Different Kinds of Hormone Therapy


Estrogen treatment comes in four primary forms, and the right one for each woman might vary. Oral medication in the form of pills is the most common kind of estrogen replacement therapy, and these are taken once daily with a meal. This kind of treatment has the most research backing it up, but there are potential risks for the liver, blood clots, strokes, heart attack, and breast cancer.


Skin patches can be estrogen alone or combined with progestin. Users change the patch one to two times a week, and it’s a very convenient delivery method that doesn’t have the risks of liver damage that pills do. Unfortunately, sunlight and heat might accelerate some patches’ estrogen release, leading to too much dosage early and substandard dosages later.


Topical gels, creams, and sprays also involve estrogen, absorbed through the skin and into the blood. Daily use is common, and the direct skin application bypasses the cholesterol and liver issues that happen with some pills and tablets. Unfortunately, these might wash off before delivering the whole treatment and must dry before users wear their clothes. Also, there’s not as much research on these as on newer ones.


Vaginal creams, rings, and suppositories apply treatment directly to the part of the body they’re named after. These are usually prescribed to women suffering vaginal dryness, burning, and itching or those who suffer pain when they have intercourse.


Picking Your Therapy


Working with your family physician is an excellent first step in picking the type of hormone replacement therapy you need. Each kind of therapy has pros and cons, and you need to weigh the benefits and risks of each possibility. Please consult your doctor about what they know from the latest research, how long you might need therapy and the appropriate dosage.