Six Symptoms of Menopause That Hormone Therapy Can Help
As a woman’s reproductive years come to a close, her body begins to reduce production of certain “sex hormones” including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This period of transition, known as menopause, occurs on average around the age of 51. However, menopause can occur as young as the early 40’s – or as late as the early 60’s. For some women, menopause can also be brought on even earlier due to medical conditions or surgery (such as a hysterectomy) that affect a woman’s uterus and/or ovaries and their ability to make female hormones in a healthy and balanced way.
Unfortunately, the “sex hormones” that regulate reproduction, also affect virtually every other aspect of a woman’s health: from libido, to metabolism and weight gain, to mood and energy as well as bone density and so much more. For this reason, most women experience a wide variety of body changes and unwanted side effects as their hormones decline during menopause.
The most common symptoms of menopausal hormone decline include such unpleasant side effects as: hot flashes, low libido (sex drive), vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse, embarrassing urinary incontinence, sleep problems, unwanted weight gain, mood swings, low energy, bone density loss (osteoporosis), and more.
But, the good news for menopausal women is that replacing declining hormones can offer long-lasting relief from most of the frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
In this article Austin, TX hormone replacement expert Doctor Ruthie Harper explains how hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate the signs and symptoms of menopause – so you can continue to live a full and happy life during and after menopause.
#1. Menopause Treatment for Hot Flashes
The symptom most commonly associated with menopause are bothersome hot flashes – sometimes called “hot flushes”. Hot flashes are estimated to affect up to 75% of perimenopausal and menopausal women. In addition to being uncomfortable, hot flashes can cause embarrassing perspiration which often occurs at the worst times, or can occur at night commonly called “night sweats” that disrupt a woman’s sleep.
Hot flashes are caused by the body’s “vasomotor” system – meaning that they result from a sudden dilation of the blood vessels. The resulting increase in blood flow is what causes the sensation of extreme heat and profuse sweating.
But in a recent medical study of 3,329 participants, simply replacing estrogen (or estrogen plus progesterone) resulted in a 75% reduction in hot flashes. Most experts, including those at the Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, all state that the most effective treatment for menopausal hot flashes and night sweats is hormone replacement.
#2. Menopause Treatment for Low Energy
While most women realize that estrogen levels affect their health, many people don’t understand that testosterone – commonly thought of as a male hormone – is also an important female hormone and plays a substantial role in a woman’s energy level. Testosterone is the hormone that helps the body build proteins needed for muscle maintenance and energy. It is also critically important for healthy wrinkle free skin (think why men have fewer wrinkles than women as thy age). So, when testosterone levels decline in women, it can lead to chronic and even debilitating fatigue and rapid aging.
Low energy during menopause can also be the result of deficient levels of thyroid hormones. The thyroid releases hormones that regulate “metabolism” – which refers to the body’s ability to store and use energy (think low energy and weight gain). And, one of the most common times for the onset of thyroid disease during is perimenopause or menopause.
So, in addition to restoring a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause, it is important to study her complete panel of hormones, including thyroid hormones. This is accomplished through comprehensive blood testing. Rebalancing estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones can often restore a woman’s energy and help her resume a healthy weight – so she can continue to live life with vitality at every age.
#3. Menopause Treatment for Low Sex Drive
In addition to experiencing hot flashes and fatigue during menopause, many women also find that their interest in sex – or their ability to become aroused or achieve orgasm– also declines. Sadly, many women believe that a low libido is just a “normal fact of aging.” So, many menopausal women do not seek medical treatment for their loss of sex drive following menopause.
Women need to know that they CAN continue to have a satisfying sex life at every age. Clinical studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy can improve libido, arousal, sensation and sexual responsiveness in women.
#4. Menopause Treatment for Vaginal Dryness & Painful Sex
Vaginal itching and dryness – often accompanied by pain during intercourse – is one of the most uncomfortable side effects of menopause. Sadly, after menopause more than 50% of women suffer from vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.
The most common reason for vaginal dryness and pain during sex is the decline in estrogen that results from menopause. The estrogen in a woman’s body is responsible for maintaining thick, healthy, elastic tissue in the vaginal walls, as well as producing the moisture needed to lubricate the vagina during sex. But, as estrogen production decreases during menopause, the vaginal walls become thin, lose their elasticity, and secrete fewer lubricating fluids.
Replacing the body’s missing estrogen with hormone replacement therapy can help a woman’s body rebuild thick, strong, elastic vaginal walls, and improve production of vaginal lubrication. As a result, sexual intercourse becomes enjoyable again!
#5. Menopause Treatment for Weight Loss
If you are a perimenopausal or menopausal woman you probably already know that it becomes harder each year to maintain your weight. And, during menopause, a woman’s weight genuinely can “shift” – with more fat being stored around the belly.
This is because the hormonal decline that occur during menopause causes weight gain – especially around the belly. But hormone replacement therapy can help you prevent weight gain, lose the weight you may have gained and tone up that mid-section!
When estrogen levels are low, the body’s metabolism slows down – which results in increased fat storage on the body (especially around the middle). Additionally, low estrogen levels mean that the body is less able to break down or “burn” fat, which also results in fat accumulation, weight gain and more “belly fat”.
Further adding to the problem, levels of the hormone leptin also drop during menopause. And this is the hormone that signals the brain to feel “full” when eating. So, most women actually do have a bigger appetite and feel hungrier during menopause – leading to the consumption of more calories.
Fortunately, replacing declining hormones can help curb the appetite, stimulate the metabolism, and encourage fat burning. As a result, the body can more easily lose weight, build muscle, and not store as much fat around the mid-section.
#6. Menopause Treatment for Osteoporosis
An invisible – but dangerous and even deadly – side effect of menopause is osteoporosis. This is because one of estrogen’s many essential duties is to stimulate the cellular activity that produces strong bones. So, during menopause when estrogen levels decline, the bones lose calcium and become thinner and more prone to breaking.
Sadly, up to fifty percent of women who are over the age 50 will suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis! But since osteoporosis has no visible external symptoms, many women do not even realize that they have lost bone density after menopause, until they experience a fracture.
Several recent clinical studies on menopausal women, however, have reported that estrogen replacement after menopause can prevent fractures due to osteoporosis. These controlled medical research experiments have universally reported that hormone replacement should be the first choice of therapy for osteoporosis, rather than bisphosphonate medicines such as Fosamax and Boniva.
So, rather than relying on “synthetic” drugs, integrative and preventative doctors prefer to treat the underlying cause of osteoporosis – which is estrogen deficiency – with hormone replacement therapy.
Natural Menopause Treatment – Austin, TX
In addition to treating hot flashes, low libido, fatigue, painful sex, vaginal dryness, weight gain, hot flashes and osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and many other life-threatening medical conditions.
If you are a woman who is experiencing the challenges of perimenopause or menopause, schedule an appointment with Doctor Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX to see if hormone replacement therapy is the right treatment for you. Dr. Harper has taken care of menopausal women for over 20 years and will conduct a thorough and personalized hormone analysis and customize a menopause treatment plan that is safe and balanced for your unique needs.
And if you are outside of the Austin, TX area, or prefer to use telemedicine, Dr. Harper can schedule a tele-consultation, and have remote blood work done in your area, so you can start living your best life again throughout menopause and beyond!