As any woman who is (unfortunately) continuously aging, at a certain point it’s time to think about the big elephant in the room–menopause. We’ve all heard the horror stories. Mood swings, hot flashes, weight gain, ceaseless discomfort…and the inevitable loss of sex drive. But does it have to be the curse it is made out to be? When is it time to consider hormone therapy for menopause?
Hormone therapy can divided into three large categories: testosterone treatments, progesterone treatments and estrogen treatments. By the time we reach menopause, our testosterone levels have already been depleted to half of what they were during puberty. What this results in is the continuous lack of sexual desire and drive, we feel before, after, and during menopause. The effects however, are not just sex related. Androgens (male hormones like testosterone), actually perform over 200 actions within the human body. Without them, we also feel decreased levels in energy, interest, even happiness as a whole. So when is it appropriate to consider testosterone therapy for menopause? The answer is anytime hormonal imbalances begin affecting your way of life.
Testosterone for women, especially after menopause, has 3 main effects. 1. It increases libido and sexual desire. 2. It maintains energy levels including preventing depression, boosting your sense of well being, eliminating fatigue, mood swings, and elevates your motivation/enthusiasm for life as a whole. 3. It promotes bone health that drastically decreases after mental health and even help prevents extreme body shape changes. These 3 functions can be essential to feeling the same way before and after menopause.
Androgen levels actually start falling when we’re in our early 20s. The reason hormone therapy for menopause is emphasized is because coupled with decreases in androgen is also extreme decreases in estrogen. The general lack of hormones all at once is what is responsible for the sudden bad feelings we get. Estrogen therapy can therefore prove to be a God send when it comes to relieving the most uncomfortable physical symptoms we feel during menopause. From hot flashes to night sweats, vaginal dryness, itchiness and burning with intercourse, estrogen therapy can prove to be a solution to it all. Especially for women who have had their ovaries removed, taking estrogen supplements before the age of 45 can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s, anxiety and even depression.
There are however, precautions to be taken when looking into estrogen therapy. It is not for everyone and can increase the risk of certain cancers when not supplemented with progesterone therapy. Progesterone therapy for women is often used to maintain hormonal balance, especially in regards to balancing out the stimulating effects of estrogen. Without adequate levels of progesterone, we can actually experience increased mood swings, anxiety/depression, aches/pains, weight gain, sleep disorders, breast disorders and even endometriosis/breast cancer in some of the worst cases! Therefore when considering any hormone replacement, progesterone therapy can be a good option for both pre and post menopause women, especially when coupled with estrogen therapy. The optimal status for estrogen therapy are those of us experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes (and other menopause symptoms), have lost bone mass and have tried other treatments, and stopped having periods/lost function of our ovaries before age 40. If you fall into this category, estrogen treatment can do wonders for you during menopause!
Regardless of who you are, your menopause is just as unique as you are. Therefore it is always good to consider talking to your doctor about the right hormone therapy for menopause catered to your needs. Especially for women with their ovaries damaged/removed hormone therapy for menopause can be crucial to maintaining any sense of normality.