Hormones are key to regulating almost every system or function in your body. In a way you can think of them as the oil that keeps the machine operating smoothly and at peak capacity. However, like oil, they are a limited resource. In fact, if you look at how our bodies have evolved, we really have only been given about a 30 year supply. After that, hormone production starts to drop off, and levels continue to diminish significantly, especially for women. All women are familiar with menopause and the “changes” it brings.
Hormone Replacement Therapy, as the name implies simply means replenishing what the body no longer makes on its own. For many years, Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, was the standard of treatment for women experiencing the most common symptoms of menopause, hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, etc. In the early years of HRT, doctors also thought it was a miracle cure, able to not only help women get through menopause, but it could also prevent disease, and stave off many of the other unpleasantries of growing older. It was prescribed almost as a matter of course for any women entering menopause.
That was until a large scale clinical trial known as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was conducted, in which it was found that the way most HRT was being prescribed, was having some negative impact on women’s health. From the results of WHI, doctors have learned much more about hormone treatments and how to safely apply them for maximum effectiveness, with minimal risks.
Separating the HRT Facts from Fiction
Despite our better understanding of HRT, since WHI, there is still a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and misinformation about HRT. Before WHI, there was a belief that HRT was effective in preventing osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.The only thing that has changed since those studies, is that doctors now have a better understanding of HRTs effectiveness in preventing those diseases. We now understand it is not as effective as once thought, and since better treatments for conditions such as osteoporosis have been developed, it is no longer recommended for those treatments. However, to think that it is harmful for all women, simply is not true.
In fact, according to a Fact Sheet produced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
Some of the WHI findings are of uncertain effect or not statistically significant.”
HRT remains the most effective treatment we have for treating the symptoms of menopause and Female Sexual Dysfunction. With what we have learned about HRT, it simply now means doctors need to be more selective about how and to whom we prescribe it.
We must look very closely at each woman as an individual, evaluate her symptoms, and hormone levels, and prescribe just the right, safe and effective hormone treatments to get her back into her optimal balance. The problems discovered with the earlier uses of HRT have just forced its use into a more exact and precise science.
Risks of Hormone Therapy
Clinical studies of our newer hormonal treatments such as systemic hormone therapy or low-dose vaginal preparations of estrogen, conducted since WHI, have shown renewed evidence that hormone therapy is still the right choice for many women, as long as doctors look at their overall lifestyles, and risk factors.
Today, individualized HRT is delivered orally, by a skin patch, or topical gels, creams or sprays. HRT prescribed in the right doses, continues to be the most effective treatment available for reducing night sweats and hot flashes, and improve vaginal dryness, lack of stimulation and painful intercourse –even in non-menopausal women.
Regarding the results of the WHI studies, the NIH Fact Sheet states,
The reports of increased risks do not mean you will develop breast cancer or another condition if you have been using the hormone therapy.
Your personal and family history, and your lifestyle, all play a key role in your risk factors of developing any disease or condition.
Effectiveness of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy is still one of the most effective treatments doctors have to help keep women living active, healthy, and productive lives. But now more than ever, it is important that women only seek HRT treatments from qualified medical professionals. You need to work with someone who understands you as an individual and can properly assess the root of your menopausal, or sexual function issues.
Only then can your doctor prescribe the most effective treatments, which may, or may not, include HRT, for your individual needs and lifestyle.
Once your symptoms, and hormone levels are properly evaluated, you may require HRT, or you may also benefit from new and emerging, all natural treatments for sexual enhancement such as Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.
The bottom-line is, despite what you may have heard, doctors still have many ways to treat pre-menopausal, menopausal, or post-menopausal symptoms.
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