As women reach their 40s and 50s, the ovaries reduce the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the process known as menopause. The fluctuating hormone levels associated with menopause can cause sometimes uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. A gynecologist may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage these symptoms.
But women nearing menopause are not the only ones that hormone therapy can benefit. Take a look at what hormone therapy can do for women of all ages.
What Is Hormone Therapy?
Hormone therapy involves supplementing the body with adequate levels of estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of both. There are various types of hormone replacement therapy, which can be administered through pills, patches, creams, gels, or even injections. By balancing or adjusting hormone levels, hormone therapy alleviates the symptoms related to imbalances.
What Hormone Therapy Can Do For You
By adjusting estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, hormone therapy can:
- Alleviate hot flashes
- Improve vaginal issues such as dryness, soreness, or inflammation
- Protect bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Lower the risk of diabetes
- Improve sex drive
Hormone imbalances and the symptoms above are most commonly associated with menopause but can result from other vaginal problems or conditions. Hormone therapy can be effective in treating or relieving symptoms of the following:
As women approach menopause, hormone levels naturally fall, leading to symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances. While some women experience only mild menopausal symptoms, others experience them severely enough to impact their daily lives. For menopausal and postmenopausal women experiencing extreme symptoms, hormone replacement therapy can help.
Hormone therapy can benefit non-menopausal women as well. While low estrogen is most common in girls approaching puberty and women approaching menopause, it can occur at any age. Younger women may experience low estrogen from excessive exercise, eating disorders, autoimmune disorders, and more.
Symptoms of low estrogen that hormone therapy can help treat include painful intercourse, irregular or missed periods, mood swings, hot flashes, breast tenderness, fatigue, and more.
Endometriosis is a disorder that affects approximately 2-10% of women between the ages of 25 and 40. With endometriosis, tissue similar to the tissue that lines the uterus, endometrium, grows outside of the uterus, typically around pelvic organs like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The tissue breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle, like endometrial tissue, but unlike menstrual blood, the blood has no way of exiting the body.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is (sometimes severe) pelvic pain associated with periods as well as excessive bleeding, pain during sex, painful bowel movements or urination, and even infertility. Hormone therapy can be used to alleviate pain associated with the condition.
Unlike hormone therapy used for menopause that replaces hormones to correct imbalances, hormone therapy for endometriosis stops the ovaries from producing hormones. The lack of hormones prevents ovulation, slowing the growth of endometrial tissue, which is effective in treating endometriosis-related pain, preventing the growth of scars or adhesions, and healing existing adhesions.
Male Hormonal Imbalances
Women are not the only people who can benefit from hormone therapy. As men age, they also experience hormonal imbalances that can lead to fatigue, insomnia, weight
gain, and more. These symptoms can be treated with hormone therapy for men, or testosterone replacement therapy. Men experiencing these symptoms should have their hormone levels checked to determine if testosterone deficiency is the cause. From there, a doctor can help determine if hormone therapy is the answer.
Talk to a Hormone Therapy Specialist
If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of hormone therapy, speak to a specialist about your options. Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is an OB/GYN and Certified Menopause Practitioner with experience helping women – and now men – choose the hormone regimen that is right for them. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 960-2720. Chapel Hill Gynecology is open for office visits (using recommended protocols for preventing COVID-19 exposure) as well as telemedicine visits.