Some of the most common questions that we receive at our wellness center are about hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. A lot of women come to us wondering about the benefits of HRT versus the risks it poses. Many women are curious about how HRT and other medications utilized during menopause can influence their sleep- for worse or for better. Choosing to use HRT is a highly individualized decision, which you should only make after consulting with your physicians and accounting for your health and family medical history, age, where you are in the menopausal transition, the severity of your menopause symptoms, and the effectiveness of non-hormonal therapies in relieving these symptoms. In this article, we will discuss what the science says about the risks and benefits of HRT when used to treat symptoms of menopause, such as sleep.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
HRT is a treatment utilized to supplement the dwindling supply of your body’s natural hormones, particularly as production goes down during and after menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are the most common hormones supplemented with HRT, although testosterone and DHEA are becoming more popular replacement hormones for different conditions. Women who have their uterus intact can take both progesterone and estrogen together in order to protect against uterine cancer. Women who’ve gone through a hysterectomy can take estrogen on its own.
Benefits Vs. Risks Of HRT
If you are wondering if hormone replacement is the right choice for treating your menopause symptoms, it’s important to take into consideration both age and proximity to menopause. Scientific evidence has shown that women have the greatest benefits, with the lowest risks, when HRT is used in menopausal under the age of 60 or within a decade of menopause. We also recommend that women use estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy for no longer than three to five years. It’s been shown that a longer duration of use raises your risk of breast cancer. Women who just use replacement estrogen may be able to stay on this treatment for a longer period of time, since the higher risk of breast cancer does not seem to be a factor when it comes to estrogen-only HRT.
For women who are under the age of 60 and within 10 years of menopause, estrogen replacement has been shown to have a positive impact on both cardiovascular and bone health, and also may lower the risk of diabetes. During this window of time, HRT may also offer benefits for your cognitive health and protects against neurodegenerative disease and cognitive decline.
Studies that came out in 2017 highlighted some good news about the overall safety of HRT for women going through menopause. A highly comprehensive study analyzed over 27,000 women who took HRT beginning in the 1990s, and discovered there was no statistically significant difference in mortality for women who used HRT, compared to women who didn’t. The researchers examined all-cause mortality, along with specific mortality rates for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other major causes of mortality, and there was no connection between HRT use and higher rates of death for the women who use hormone replacement therapy.
If you are curious about HRT, call Optimized Health & Wellness for an appointment today!