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Do You Have To Take Hormones During Menopause

Hormonal Changes During Menopause: How These Affect You

How To Find Hormonal Balance During Menopause

Menopause is diagnosed when you have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months and occurs when your ovaries have stopped producing and releasing eggs. It is during this time, and also the months and years before, that hormone levels in your body can fluctuate.

Hormonal changes during menopause can bring on a list of symptoms that are uncomfortable and, at times, seemingly uncontrollable. Regaining control of your body is the ultimate goal when you are living with these symptoms.

What Is Known About Hormone Therapy And The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Taking combined hormone therapy can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Here are some important findings:

  • Taking combination hormone therapy showed a rare increase of absolute risk of less than one additional case of breast cancer per 1000 person years of use.
  • There was a nonsignificant reduction in breast cancer seen in women with hysterectomies on estrogen only therapy.
  • If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer you should not take systemic hormone therapy.

Stopping Hormone Therapy Risks

NEW YORK -Though long-term hormone replacement therapy has serious health risks, going off the medication may lead to a return of menopausal symptoms and increased risk for high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Taking estrogen or estrogen and progesterone hormones can help alleviate some bothersome symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and trouble sleeping, but the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that postmenopausal women avoid the therapy due to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and breast cancer.

The risks were widely publicized after the Women’s Health Initiative study results were published in 2002.

Despite those risks, “for some women there may be definite benefits that have not been realized,” lead author Dr. Michelle Warren of Columbia University Medical Center in New York told Reuters Health.

The new study, which was funded by Pfizer, manufacturer of Prempro and Premarin hormone replacement drugs, included 310 postmenopausal women aged 56 to 73 who had been on hormone therapy for at least five years.

The women were divided into three groups: those on continuous hormone therapy, those who stopped taking the hormones briefly and went back on them and women who stopped taking the hormones permanently.

In this study, women taking hormones were about 20 percent more likely to be employed and scored higher on a quality of life scale, according to results published in the journal Menopause.

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Hot Flashes During Perimenopause

Most women don’t expect to have hot flashes until;, so it can be a big surprise when they show up earlier, during perimenopause. Hot flashes sometimes called hot flushes and given the scientific name of vasomotor symptoms are the most commonly reported symptom of perimenopause. They’re also a regular feature of sudden menopause due to surgery or treatment with certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs.

Hot flashes tend to come on rapidly and can last from one to five minutes. They range in severity from a fleeting sense of warmth to a feeling of being consumed by fire “from the inside out.” A major hot flash can induce facial and upper-body flushing, sweating, chills, and sometimes confusion. Having one of these at an inconvenient time can be quite disconcerting. Hot flash frequency varies widely. Some women have a few over the course of a week; others may experience 10 or more in the daytime, plus some at night.

Most American women have hot flashes around the time of menopause, but studies of other cultures suggest this experience is not universal. Far fewer Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian women report having hot flashes. In Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, women appear not to have any at all. These differences may reflect cultural variations in perceptions, semantics, and lifestyle factors, such as diet.

Menopausal Hormone Therapy And Cancer Risk

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For decades, women have used hormone therapy to ease symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and sweating. This is called;menopausal hormone therapy, and you may see it abbreviated as HT or MHT. You may also hear it described as;hormone replacement therapy;,;postmenopausal hormone therapy;, or;postmenopausal hormones;.

In the past, many doctors and their patients believed that MHT didnt just help with hot flashes and other symptoms it had important health benefits. But well-conducted studies have led many doctors to conclude that the risks of MHT often outweigh the benefits.

This information covers only how MHT can affect a womans risk of getting certain cancers. It does not cover other possible risks of MHT such as heart disease or stroke.

You can use this information when you talk to your doctor about whether MHT is right for you.

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North American Menopause Society Updates Position Statement On Hormone Therapy Says Benefits Outweigh Risks For Some Women

In its updated guidelines on using hormone replacement therapy , the North American Menopause Society says that HRT is an effective treatment for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. For women younger than 60 or within 10 years of menopause who have no other contraindications, the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks when treating menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, and for women who have a higher-than-average risk of bone loss or breaking a bone.

The updated position statement was published in the June 2017 issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. Read The 2017 hormone therapy position statement of The North American Menopause Society.

Its extremely important to know that being diagnosed with breast cancer is a contraindication for HRT. Women who have a history of breast cancer should NOT take HRT.

“The use of hormone therapy continues to be one of the most controversial and debated topics,” said JoAnn V. Pinkerton, North American Menopause Society executive director. “The goal of this updated version of the Society’s position statement is to provide excellent, evidence-based, current clinical recommendations to menopause practitioners for the improvement of care for women depending on them to help relieve menopause symptoms.”

The statement also reviews the effects of HRT on various health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, at different stages of a woman’s life.

Menopause Hormones Affect The Brain Too

But what’s happening, and why? In a word, the answer is “hormones.”

“The constant change of hormone levels during this time can have a troubling effect on emotions … leaving some women to feel irritable and even depressed,” reports the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Indeed, while everyone thinks of hormones as the chemicals that drive our reproductive system, in truth, there are receptors for both estrogen and progesteronethroughout our body.

When these hormone levels begin to decline, as they do in the months and years leading up to menopause, every system that has these hormone receptors registers the change, and that includes your brain.

And while most of us can recite chapter and verse about what happens to our uterus or ovaries around this time , we hear very little about what happens when the hormone receptors in our brain begin running on empty!

What does happen? A disruption in an entire chain of biochemical activity, which in turn affects the production of mood-regulating chemicals, including serotonin and endorphins.

The end result: Mood swings, temper tantrums, depression, surprising highs followed by equally unexpected lows — and none of it seems to make any sense.

“Your ovaries are failing and trying to keep up estrogen production. Some days they overshoot it, other days they can’t produce enough,” says Darlene Lockwood, MD, assistant professor at the University of California in San Francisco.

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Should You Use Hormone Therapy During Menopause

When a woman begins having menopause symptoms like hot flashes, irregular periods or mood changes, she will probably wonder at some point whether she should take some type of menopause hormone therapy . Sometimes called hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, it usually refers to a combination of the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone.

Research is beginning to show what the risks and benefits of menopause hormone therapy are, but there is still a lot to learn about the effects of estrogen and progesterone on our bodies and our health. While it is a very effective treatment for many menopause symptoms, hormone therapy can increase the chances of other conditions, and the decision to use it is a balancing act of determining whether the pros outweigh the cons.

The Womens Health Initiative study is the largest study done on menopausal women and focused on heart disease, bone fractures, and breast and colorectal cancers. One of the preventive strategies studied was the effect of hormone therapy on these conditions.

The current recommendation for menopause hormone therapy suggests;if hormone therapy is used to treat menopausal symptoms, it should be used in the smallest doses that are effective, for the shortest time necessary.

What Causes Breast Soreness

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Changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are the usual cause of breast pain during perimenopause and menopause. As you enter perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall in unpredictable patterns before starting to taper off. The spikes in hormone levels can affect breast tissue, making your breasts hurt.

Breast soreness should improve once your periods stop and your body no longer produces estrogen. If you take hormone therapy to treat menopause symptoms, you may continue to have sore breasts.

Your breast soreness may be related to menopause, or it could be a symptom of another condition. Your risk of having breast soreness is higher if you:

  • take certain medicines, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , diuretics, digitalis preparations, methyldopa or spironolactone
  • experience a breast infection
  • have cysts in your breasts
  • have a fibroadenoma or a noncancerous lump in the breast
  • wear a poorly fitting bra, especially one with an underwire
  • gain weight or have large breasts

Though rare, breast cancer can cause breast soreness. Most breast pain isnt due to cancer. However, finding a lump in your breast that is accompanied by pain is stressful and causes worry. So see your doctor to find out the next steps of evaluation. There are noncancerous conditions that can cause breast lumps and soreness. Your doctor can order tests to find out whats causing the problem.

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Who Can Use It

You can begin hormone replacement therapy as soon as you start experiencing menopausal symptoms.

The average age for women to experience the menopause;in the UK is 51. However, some women have the menopause;when they are in their;30s, 40s or 60s. There is no way of predicting exactly when the menopause will happen.

Some women have menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness, in the 3;to 4;years;before;the menopause. This is known as the peri-menopause.

The peri-menopause occurs;because levels;of the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, fall;when the number of remaining eggs drops below a certain level. This means you may experience menopausal symptoms even when you;are still having periods.

In most cases,;HRT can be used without taking a test to confirm you are starting the menopause. A test;for the menopause is usually only necessary if you are under 40 years old or have;unusual bleeding patterns during your period.

Testing can help rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as having an;overactive thyroid gland . You should have regular smear tests for cervical cancer.

How Do These Hormonal Changes Affect You

These hormonal changes can affect your body and mind in many different ways. You may experience some or all of these menopause symptoms: irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, chills, night sweats, weight gain, moodiness, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, skin dryness, decreased sex drive, and thinning hair. Although these symptoms are considered to be normal, they will make you feel far from normal.

women can be, and many are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations. Sometimes it gets to the point of feeling totally overwhelmed as if for a time they have lost control of their life.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause and Womens Bodies Womens Wisdom, describes the effects of these hormone fluctuations. She states that women can be, and many are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations. Sometimes it gets to the point of feeling totally overwhelmed as if for a time they have lost control of their life.

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Hormone Replacement Therapy Treatments

There are several different types of hormone treatments. For menopause and sex hormone-related conditions, many women take either estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of both.;

Types of hormone replacement therapy;

Hormone therapies can be taken in several ways including:

  • Estrogen cream, tablets, or rings inserted into the vagina
  • Estrogen cream, lotion, or gel applied to the skin
  • Progesterone cream applied to the skin
  • Estrogen or estrogen-progesterone skin patch
  • Estrogen or progesterone tablet taken by mouth
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone cream inserted into the vagina

Some women prefer to use bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which involves natural, plant-derived, or compounded hormone preparations. These may offer some benefits, however, there isnt enough research to know the risks.;

Your doctor may start with a low dose for several months to monitor the effects on your body and see if it helps. Many doctors disagree about how to use hormone therapy and studies indicate there are some risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.;

You should speak to your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy is right for you if you:

What Are The Types Of Hormone Therapy

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There are two main types of hormone therapy :

  • Estrogen Therapy: Estrogen is taken alone. Doctors most often prescribe a low dose of estrogen to be taken as a pill or patch every day. Estrogen may also be prescribed as a cream, vaginal ring, gel or spray. You should take the lowest dose of estrogen needed to relieve menopause symptoms and/or to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy : Also called combination therapy, this form of HT combines doses of estrogen and progesterone .

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Womens Health Initiative Studies Of Hormone Therapy And Cancer Risk

Several large studies have looked at possible links between systemic hormone therapy in menopausal women and different types of cancer.

The main randomized studies of MHT were part of the Womens Health Initiative . The WHI included 2 randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials of MHT in healthy women:

  • One study looked at estrogen therapy in post-menopausal women who didnt have a uterus. Over 5,000 women in the ET group took a daily dose of estrogen in the form of conjugated equine estrogen for an average of about 6 years. The researchers then continued to follow them for several years to look for any further effects of the hormone. The women were compared to more than 5,000 in the placebo group.
  • The other study looked at estrogen-progestin therapy in post-menopausal women who still had their uterus. Over 8,500 women in the EPT group took a daily dose of CEE plus a progestin called;medroxyprogesterone acetate;for an average of about 5 years. This group was compared to a group of more than 8,000 women in the placebo group.

The WHI also conducted some observational studies. However, when we mention a WHI study below, were referring to one of the randomized studies.

What Can Be Done About The Decline In Hormones

Empowering;yourself with information about yourself is key. This especially applies to;menopause. In the first instance knowing that you are not feeling 100% is due to your;changing hormones, gives you understanding. In turn, this provides an opportunity to;consider your;options. These options can range from changes in;lifestyle such as increasing exercise to;protect bone health, paying extra attention to nutrition and considering pros and cons of HRT, says Dr Keay.

She adds, Despite recent reports, HRT is safe in those who are not contraindicated. Although there is a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer, it is nowhere near as high as the risk associated with suboptimal lifestyle factors such as being overweight, smoking and drinking excessive alcohol. As with any medication risk/benefits must be weighed up for the individual. For many HRT improves quality of life.

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How Hormone Depletion Affects You

What causes menopausal symptoms? Hormonal changes.

Hormones are the messengers in the body that travel through the blood stream to start, stop, speed up or slow down your physical and chemical functions and processes across all body systems. Your ovaries are the source of estrogen and progesterone, the two key hormones that control the reproductive system, including the menstrual cycle and fertility in women. You are born with all the eggs you will ever have. The eggs are in the follicles, which are found in the ovaries. During menopause, the number of ovarian follicles declines and the ovaries become less responsive to the two other hormones involved in reproductionLuteinizing Hormone and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone . As your ovaries age and release fewer hormones, FSH and LH can no longer perform their usual functions to regulate your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These inevitable changes in your hormones and natural decline of estrogen levels during menopause can significantly affect your health for years to come. Click on the bars next to diagram to discover how estrogen depletion can affect each part of your body.

See How Hormone Depletion Affects You

The changes in your hormones and natural decline in estrogen levels during menopause can significantly affect your health for years to come.

Three Important Hormones In Menopause

Why to take progesterone at menopause.

The hormonal system is a complex and fragile system in the body. The same hormones that keep you happy and healthy may also cause distress. Hormonal imbalance happens throughout your life, but what you experience during menopause is different.

The dance of hormones during menopause means your hormone levels may go and up-down. These unpredictable shifts cause hormonal imbalances, which may result in a myriad of menopause symptoms. The three dominating hormones in your body include:

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