Hormone therapy

Ovaries produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone that regulate development and function of breast and the monthly menstrual cycle. This hormones are very important because they also prepare the body for reproduction, for instance progesterone is preparing the breasts for lactation.

Estrogen and progesterone seem to be a girl’s best friends but when a woman reaches menopause, the levels of this two hormones decrease and this may cause a lot of problems.

The menopause is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation stops. The timing is different but in general this occurs around 45-50 years old.

Menopause effects are visible on the vasomotor system, neurologic system, urogenital system. Also, postmenopausal women are predisposed to develop osteoporosis. At menopause women lose their resistance to heart disease. By the age of 65 years, their risk of having a heart attack is higher because of the reduction of positive effects of estrogen in plasma. In order to help women deal with this period of their life many doctors recommend hormone therapy. But this is still a no win situation because there are some health risks involved.

Among the benefits of hormone therapy is the relief from sleep difficulties, anxiety, hot flashes, vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy takes several forms, because estrogen comes as nasal spray, skin gel, pills, vaginal ring, vaginal creams, skin patches applied on the abdomen. Most women who take estrogen have to take progesterone as well. Progestin (man made progesterone) comes as vaginal cream, pills and skin patches .

Besides hormone therapy, a woman can help herself by daily exercising and healthy eating.

Until 2002 hormone therapy was considered a good treatment of menopause effects and a good protector of long-term health . But now, a lot of risks of the hormone therapy were discovered .

For instance, a woman who takes estrogen pills risks to form blood clots. The risk is even higher if she also smokes. Women who take estrogen for a long period of time risk to develop endometrial cancer. The risk is 5 times higher then in a normal case. However taking progesterone in the same time with estrogen seems to protect women .

Another condition a woman can develop after taking estrogen and progesterone pills is gallbladder disease.

Unfortunately, hormone therapy has side effects like headaches, water retention, nausea, breast soreness, mood problems, bloating. Some women also have irregular bleeding when they start the hormone therapy. Changing the dose or the form of the therapy may help reduce this effects.

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