What Is Hormone Therapy? Do I Need It?

In a previous post, we covered one of the myths of menopause – that menopause makes you fat. 

This week, we’ll tackle one of the most controversial topics – Hormone Therapy (HT).

Previously, this was referred to as Hormone Replacement Therapy, but now it is called Hormone Therapy. Let’s first start with what hormone therapy means.

What is hormone therapy?

These are medications of female hormones to replace the ones that a woman who has reached menopause no longer makes, such as estrogen and progesterone. As a reminder, menopause is defined as no menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months and the average age is 51 years old.  

What is “bio-identical” Hormone Therapy?

This is a very confusing and often misunderstood term. Simply, bioidentical refers to those hormones that are chemically identical to the hormones a woman makes primarily by the ovaries during her reproductive years. A woman’s body makes various estrogens, such as beta-estradiol, estrone and estriol, as well as progesterone, testosterone and other hormones. Therefore, bioidentical HT can mean any medication that provides 1 or more of these hormones as the active ingredient.

There are many FDA approved forms of bioidentical hormone therapy including oral estradiol, transdermal estradiol and oral micronized progesterone, to name the most common.  

Hormone Therapy, compounded by a Compounding Pharmacy, which is not manufactured by a commercial pharmaceutical company, is often referred to as bioidentical. The FDA does not recognize hormones compounded by a Compounding Pharmacy and therefore some physicians do NOT use Compounding Pharmacies. Personally, I believe that certain Compounding Pharmacies, which hold high standards of practice and quality control, provide another option to patients who are seeking individualized treatment regimens. 

Why use Hormone Therapy?

Hormone Therapy provides a number of benefits for women, especially those struggling with perimenopause and the menopausal transition. Hormone fluctuations with perimenopause and rapid decline during menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

These include: (among many others)

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

  • Mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Decreased Sex Drive

  • Vaginal Dryness

  • Painful Intercourse

  • Bone loss

  • Urinary Incontinence

Image via Primal Power

There are various pros and cons of HT and finding the right provider who can guide you through this decision making process is paramount. Be sure to work with a professional trained in bioidentical hormones and the various routes of administration for each, to best fit your needs, reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life – to feel and look AMAZING at 50, 60 and beyond!

In future blogs, we will dive deeper into the pros and cons of HT.  Stay tuned!

In health and happiness,

  • Dr. Diana