Women being treated with menopause hormone therapy can expect a decrease in conditions such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, painful sexual intercourse, and mood swings. As menopause approaches, levels of estrogen drop, predisposing women to these low-estrogen symptoms, as well as fatigue, brittle bones, and dry eyes. Menopause hormone therapy dramatically reduces these symptoms, however, it is not without risk. Adverse reaction to menopause hormone therapy includes vaginal bleeding or spotting and increased risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Hormone replacement therapy can be taken either orally, topically, through a patch, or vaginally.
Transdermal skin patches are a common method of delivering menopause hormone therapy, because they are convenient and easy to use. People who have a family or personal history of gynecological cancers, or those cancers that are spurred by estrogen, are advised against taking hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer and cancer of the uterus can be promoted when estrogen is introduced to the system. For those patients at risk, the physician can recommend alternative methods to alleviate menopausal symptoms, such as herbal remedies, loose-fitting clothing, avoidance of hot beverages, and vitamin therapy.
Commonly, physicians prescribe menopause hormone therapy for osteoporosis prevention. Estrogen strengthens bones and decreases the risk of broken bones and hip fractures in those women who are menopausal. Calcium and vitamin D are also beneficial for bone health and are a viable option to preventing brittle bones for those who are unable to receive hormone therapy.
Creams containing hormones are another option for women taking menopause hormone therapy. Generally, this method of hormonal replacement therapy causes few side effects because it is absorbed slowly though the skin. The same applies to vaginally delivered hormones. Women who use the vaginal delivery route of menopause hormone therapy are typically those whose primary complaint is vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse.
Frequently, painful sexual intercourse deters women from engaging in relations. Although lubricating gels and ointments can help decrease discomfort, estrogen creams applied directly into the vagina can restore natural moisture and repair damaged and irritated tissues. Again, when hormones are delivered into the human body vaginally, the risk of adverse reactions is minimized because less of the hormone is absorbed into the system as a whole, rather it is delivered locally.
Hormonal therapy can also provide relief against urinary incontinence caused by bladder prolapse. Sometimes, in the absence of estrogen, the bladder and other urinary structures weaken, causing incontinence and urinary dribbling. Hormone replacement therapy can alleviate these problems and prevent embarrassing accidents of urine leakage.