How Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Work?

Updated November 24, 2022by MyTherapist Editorial Team

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When it comes to menopause, there are different opinions about what it is, what it means and how to treat it. For some women, there's no need to do anything. Going through menopause is simply a part of life, and they experience few to mild side effects. For others however, it can be an extremely complex and difficult time and hormone replacement therapy can be a way to get through the extremely severe symptoms. Talking with your medical doctor or mental health professional will be the best way to know what you should do.

What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

There are different types of therapy out there including electric shock therapy, psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy and more. When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, it is a type of treatment that is used for women who are going through menopause and have severe symptoms. Generally, this is a type of pill, but it can be a patch, gel, ring or cream that is applied to different areas of the body. Inside that product is a type of hormone or set of hormones that will help to balance out the body and allow menopause to occur in as natural a way as possible.

Benefits Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Some of the biggest benefits when it comes to this type of therapy are that it can help to ease vaginal symptoms including dryness, itching, burning, and discomfort as well as relieving night sweats and hot flashes. On top of this, it can sometimes help to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer and may even decrease the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and other medical conditions. Another form of this therapy may help to treat only the vaginal and urinary symptoms but not hot flashes, night sweats or osteoporosis. The first is considered systemic hormone therapy and the second is a low-dose vaginal product.

For patients who have not had the uterus removed it is generally advised to take both estrogen and progesterone or progestin because this can help to achieve the benefits that are hoped for but does not promote the growth of the lining of the uterus. This type of growth can increase your risk of developing uterine cancer, which is why it's something to avoid. For those who have had their uterus removed, however, progesterone is not required to stop this growth and estrogen can be used on its own.

Drawbacks Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

For some women, it can be dangerous to take this type of therapy just as it can be dangerous or extremely difficult not to. Some women experience increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, breast cancer, blood clots or gallbladder disease. Others may experience different side effects or risks. Only you and your medical doctor can find out if this is the best way to go for you and they will be able to look at your history related to health and determine if a specific type of therapy is going to help you better than others.

Should You Get Hormone Therapy?

If you are experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes or moderate to severe levels of other symptoms, have lost bone mass, have premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency then you may be a candidate for this type of therapy. If you experience menopause early and don't take some form of estrogen, it can increase your risk for many different diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, parkinsonism and anxiety or depression, which is why it's a good idea to get hormone therapy if you experience menopause early. Your doctor will evaluate your age, the risk you have when you started menopause and what type of menopause you have to determine if it's a good idea for you or not.

Want To Learn More About Different Types of Therapy?

If you have had breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer or have had liver disease, vaginal bleeding, stroke or blood clots in your legs or lungs you generally are not advised to take hormone therapy. For those who don't have a problem with their menopause symptoms or those who go into menopause after they turn 45 there is generally no reason to worry about hormone therapy to maintain your health. Instead, there may be other ways to cut down your osteoporosis or heart disease risk.

Moderate Menopause

For those who have more mild symptoms, you may want to look at things like healthy lifestyles or relaxation techniques. Symptoms such as hot flashes can generally be helped with these treatments and even by limiting the amount of alcohol or caffeine that you ingest. Vaginal problems can generally be helped by over the counter medications, though some other forms of medication can be prescribed by your doctor as well. It's up to you to talk with them and find out what your best options are.

Getting Help

If you are going through menopause, it may be a good idea to also speak to a mental health professional. This period in a woman's life can be difficult for different reasons and having someone to talk to may make the process even easier for you. The key is to make sure you find someone that you can feel comfortable talking to about something that is very personal for you. MyTherapist is one way that you can do just that.

This system is a completely online program that allows you to find information about different mental health conditions. You'll also be able to find a range of different therapists and mental health professionals who can help you to achieve success in overcoming anything that you might be facing. The important thing is to make sure that you get online and check out your options. You won't need to ever go to a physical office, but you will be able to get the other benefits that you're looking for because this type of therapy is entirely online, from the place that you feel most comfortable.


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