Historically, the physical strains associated with entering menopause were dismissed as part of an inevitable transition. With new treatment options, menopause does not have to be punctuated with hot flashes or plagued by mood changes.
With an abundance of hormone therapy options available, improved quality of life during the aging process is the new norm. In the past, weight gain and sleep disturbances were the most challenging part of menopause, but now the hardest part is simply picking the right treatment plan for you.
Replacing both estrogen and progesterone hormones is known as combination therapy and is effective with or without a uterus, for breast cancer prevention, and for achieving cardiovascular benefits, and great sleep. Estrogen versus combination hormone therapy is a topic worth learning about, and having a basic understanding enables you to actively participate in your treatment plan.
Menopause is a physiological transition that takes place when ovary function declines and menstrual cycles cease, causing a reduction in estrogen and progesterone. In other words, the ovaries make less and less of each hormone until eventually an egg is no longer released and periods stop. On average, this occurs in people with female reproductive organs in their late 40s or early 50s.
Possible symptoms of menopause include:
Symptoms can begin months or years before menopause has completed and can range from mild to severe. Not everyone will experience all symptoms of menopause, but most people experience at least a few.
Estrogen replacement therapy can be administered alone as opposed to being combined with progesterone treatment. Doctors usually prescribe the lowest dose possible to relieve symptoms. Daily doses of estrogen can be taken in the form of a pill, cream, gel, spray, or vaginal ring. Individuals who have had their uteruses removed are candidates for estrogen-only hormone therapy. For those who still have a uterus, combination therapy should be considered.
Combination therapy uses both estrogen and progesterone for treatment versus estrogen alone. Combining both hormones is the treatment of choice for those who still have a uterus because of an increased risk of developing uterine lining cancer in patients receiving estrogen alone.
Patients have fewer options for the ingestion of combination therapy versus estrogen-only therapy. A doctor can prescribe combination therapy as pills, patches, or vaginal inserts.
A natural decline in reproductive hormones is not the only reason hormone therapy may be needed. Any illness, injury, or disorder that reduces estrogen or progesterone production and induces menopause may benefit from hormone replacement therapy. Aside from alleviating symptoms, hormone therapy has other benefits like reducing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Some studies have also shown a decreased risk of dementia after undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
If you are experiencing symptoms of or have been diagnosed with menopause, it may be time to discuss estrogen versus combination hormone therapy with a doctor. Let us help you ease the symptoms of menopause and tailor a treatment plan that meets your exact needs. Hormone therapy is not suitable for everyone. Dr. Edward Jacobson can help you assess the risks and benefits to determine whether estrogen-only or combination therapy is right for you.