When a woman hits menopause, there are hormones that the body will naturally stop producing, mainly estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to replace these hormones. Menopause is natural in every woman’s life but often has symptoms that can be uncomfortable, such as; lack of sleep, vaginal dryness, mood changes, night sweats, bone thinning, and urinary problems.
Different types of hormone replacement therapy can be used to manage the symptoms that come with menopause. It is good to know the different types and possible risks that come with each one and let your doctor advise accordingly on which one works best for you.
Estrogen pills are one of the common forms of HRT; they are tablets taken once a day. Some contain both estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone, when taken together with estrogen, reduces the risk of cancer of the uterus.
Like the other forms of menopausal replacement therapy, estrogen pills reduce menopause symptoms. When approaching menopause, the estrogen levels will start falling, and the symptoms will show. The estrogen pills replace the low estrogen in your body. They also reduce the risk of other chronic diseases that can affect women during menopause.
- Increases the risk of stroke.
- May cause blood clots and nausea
Alora, Estraderm, and Climara are examples of HRT skin patches. Some patches are replaced every day, while others are worn for weeks, depending on the dose.
They lower the risk of losing bone density or having weak bones that fracture easily (osteoporosis). All you need to do is wear the patch beneath the waistline and change it once or twice a week, depending on the given instructions. Skin patches are convenient compared to the other types of HRT. They are also favorable for those suffering from liver problems because the estrogen goes directly into the blood and not through the liver. Some patches contain both estrogen and progesterone, which protects the uterus from cancer risks.
- Irritates the skin
- When the patches are exposed to direct sunlight or heat, they release estrogen quicker, giving you a higher dose than intended.
Topical gels, sprays, and creams are other ways of administering estrogen into your body. They have a wide range of different doses.
Estrogen creams, gel, and sprays administer estrogen into your system through the skin. Like the skin patches using the estrogen will go directly from your skin into the bloodstream, minimizing liver issues. The gel is applied from the shoulder to the wrist, the cream is applied mainly on the leg, and spray is typically administered on the arm.
- The topical treatments can be washed or rubbed off before they are fully absorbed.
- They also have some risks as other forms of HRT, like stroke or cancer.
Vaginal suppositories are for women experiencing vaginal dryness, itchiness, or other vaginal symptoms. They consist of creams, tablets, and rings. The dosage will vary depending on the type of vaginal suppository you are using. Vaginal rings are replaced after three months. The tablets are used daily for two weeks and then twice a week after that. Creams are flexible; they are used daily for several weeks.
Vaginal suppositories are the most effective for resolving vaginal symptoms during menopause. Vaginal rings are convenient because they are not changed every day. The vaginal creams, tablets, and rings have a low dosage of estrogen; therefore, they resolve the vaginal symptoms without affecting the whole body.
- Vaginal suppositories only help with the vaginal symptoms of menopause.
- They increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
The hormone replacement therapy you use depends on whether you have had the symptoms of menopause for a while or are in the early stages of menopause. Some people can go through menopause without any treatment, but HRT is the best way to manage if you have the symptoms. Consult your doctor on the potential risks and benefits of the different HRT types before settling on one. There is no time limit for when to stop taking HRT, but it is advisable to stop when the symptoms stop to avoid any further health risks.