MenopauseWith symptoms such as headaches, nausea, hot flashes, mood swings and depression, going through the menopause isn’t an easy ride. It is possible to manage the symptoms of menopause through hormone replacement therapy, but for many women the thought of hormone-based treatments can be daunting. The truth is that hormone replacement is an incredibly effective solution that helps thousands of women to feel like themselves again throughout menopause. Could it offer you the much-needed relief from debilitating menopause symptoms?

Are you well enough?

Let’s start with the basics; are you physically well enough to undergo hormone replacement therapy? Women who have previously or currently suffer from the following conditions may be unable to undergo hormone therapy:

– Cancer
– Stroke
– Blood clots
– Heart attack
– Heart disease
– Liver disease

However, many women who have experienced these conditions still have hormone replacement therapy and are perfectly healthy throughout it. Your doctor will assess your medical history and current state of health and make a recommendation as to whether hormone replacement is safe for you, so it’s definitely worth a visit to your family practice no matter what your medical past looks like.

Are you worried about side effects?

There are multiple types of hormone therapy available (we’ll come to that later!) and unfortunately all of them can pose the risk of side effects. However, most of the side effects caused are similar to the symptoms of menopause (headaches, nausea and mood swings to name a few), and the purpose of hormone replacement is to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, not to exchange them for a new set side effects. Your doctor will work closely with you to find a therapy that works best for your body with minimal side effects.

Do you have a preferred treatment method?

There are three main methods for administering hormone replacement therapy, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each.

Patches: these adhere to the skin and slowly release hormones into the body. They’re popular due to their convenience, but the adhesive glue can be an irritant and cause itching or discomfort. They’re often unsuitable for women with very sensitive skin.

Creams: applied topically, hormone replacement creams work in much the same way as patches but usually with less risk of irritation. They’re easy to apply which is a bonus, but their efficacy can vary depending on thickness of the skin and the rate of blood flow to the skin.

Pellets: the biggest benefit of hormone replacement pellets is that their effects last much longer than creams or patches, which usually must be reapplied daily or weekly. Pellets are inserted beneath the skin near the hips, and slowly release hormones for three to five months. Plus, they allow for a more controlled administration of different hormone types in order to suit the unique needs of each patient. Pellets are inserted via a small incision into the skin, which can seem somewhat invasive, but in reality it is a quick and simple procedure that shouldn’t cause any extra complications.

What does your doctor think?

Any woman considering any type of hormone replacement therapy will be given a full health assessment to check that she’s in good enough health to receive the treatment. Based on this assessment, a doctor will always give his recommendation as to whether or not hormone replacement is safe for you, and will work with you to choose a treatment plan. With this advice in mind, you’ll certainly feel more prepared for deciding whether hormone therapy is the right way for you to manage the menopause.