Dr. William Jamieson is an obstretrician-gynecologist practicing in Cincinnati, OH. Dr. Jamieson specializes in women's health, particularly the female reproductive system, pregnancy and childbirth. As an obstretrician-gynecologist, or OB-GYN, Dr. Jamieson can treat a number of health issues related to the vagina, uterus,... more
Hormone Replacement Therapy is most often used for menopause. Typical symptoms of menopause may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, low libido, weight gain, irritability, moodiness and sleep disturbances. Yet any woman who has experienced endometriosis, PMS, weight gain, low libido or fibrocystic breasts may also need to contact their pharmacist or physician.
Considering Hormone Replacement Therapy
Despite the health risks, systemic estrogen is considered to be an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. The benefits of hormone therapy may outweigh the risks if you're healthy and:
- Experience moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms
- Have lost bone mass and either can't tolerate or aren't benefitting from other treatments
- Stopped having periods before age 40 (premature menopause) or lost normal function of your ovaries before age 40 (premature ovarian insufficiency)
Who should consider HRT?
Women with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, as well as those with a family history of osteoporosis, are candidates for hormone replacement therapy.
When should a woman begin HRT treatment, and how long will treatment last?
Although the average age of menopause onset is 51 and, in many women, the most severe symptoms often last for two to three years, there are no hard and fast rules about when a woman reaches menopause or about the duration of her symptoms.
Women have traditionally used synthetic estrogen therapy to treat menopausal symptoms and to help protect against osteoporosis.
Another option for women needing hormone therapy may be the use of bio-identical hormones rather than synthetic ones. Compounding pharmacists are meeting the needs of peri-menopausal women through the use of plant-derived hormones that are biologically identical to those naturally occurring in women.
- Systemic hormone therapy. Systemic estrogen — which comes in pill, skin patch, gel, cream or spray form — remains the most effective treatment for relief of troublesome menopausal hot flashes and night sweats. Estrogen can also ease vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, itching, burning and discomfort with intercourse. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still approves estrogen for the prevention of the bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis, doctors usually recommend medications called bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.
- Low-dose vaginal products. Low-dose vaginal preparations of estrogen — which come in cream, tablet or ring form — can effectively treat vaginal symptoms and some urinary symptoms, while minimizing absorption into the body. Low-dose vaginal preparations do not help with hot flashes, night sweats or protection against osteoporosis.
No two women are alike, of course, and the value of bio-identical replacement therapy is that it can be adapted to fit your individual body and hormone levels. In fact, hormones can be made in a variety of strengths and dosage forms including capsules, topical creams and gels, suppositories and sublingual troches or lozenges.
With the help of Dr. Jamieson and a compounding pharmacist, a woman can start and maintain a bioidentical hormone replacement regimen that closely mimics what her body has been doing naturally for years.
Ask Dr. Jamieson or your pharmacist about bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to see if it is right for you.