Menopause

HRT: What You Need to Know

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We’ve spoken about menopause countless times on the website and it’s clear to see why. Menopause is a natural part of life and is a reality for most, if not all women once they get older. Saying this, menopause is often the least talked about women’s issue. When it is talked about it, it is often filled with overly medical language or it is written in a way that talks down to women. Here at ThinkLiveNatural, we aim to change the conversation around menopause, starting with its perception.

We know that there are side effects that come with the arrival of menopause. Much of the stress in adapting to being in the menopause comes from the unwanted side effects. These affect women at varying levels but still require some lifestyle changes.

One of the methods of alleviating menopausal symptoms include hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Below, we break down everything you need to know…

What is it?

During menopause, you experience an influx of hormonal changes and your oestrogen levels drop significantly. One of the common forms of treatment to remedy this is HRT. It works by replenishing low levels of oestrogen and relieving some of the common menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and rapid changes in mood. First available as a pill in 1942, there are two main hormones used in HRT: oestrogen and progestogen. Women can either use oestrogen only HRT or use both hormones.

Side effects

Although the benefits are clear (reduced menopausal symptoms and potential lowered risk of osteoporosis), there are a number of side effects to taking HRT.

In general, the side effects of oestrogen and progesterone include:

  • Breast swelling
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches

Studies on HRT

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Between 2002 and 2003, studies suggested that there was a link between the use of HRT and breast cancer. Similarly, a study carried out by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) with over 16,000 post-menopausal women which showed that although women were not more likely to develop lung cancer from use of HRT. However, if they did, their rate of mortality increased. The reason for this, according to the WHI was ‘oestrogen stimulating the growth of new blood vessels – which can cause the cancer to grow and spread. Another possible cause could be that HRT makes the cancer difficult to detect’.

However in 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggested that almost 1 million women in the UK could benefit from taking HRT. As well as this, results were published this year in Journal of the American Medical Association, which showed that ‘women on HRT had similar rates of deaths from breast cancer, heart disease and all other causes as those who took placebos’.

What now?

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We want to address the facts so you’re able to make informed decisions about your health. When deciding whether to take HRT or not, it’s important to understand that this decision is yours alone. It’s always a good idea to assess what your needs are. For some, the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks, whilst others may look to natural alternatives to alleviate their menopausal symptoms. This could involve incorporating ingredients such as soybean extract, vitamin E, magnesium and pomegranate fruit extract via supplements or nutrient-rich whole foods. Similarly, focusing on improving lifestyle habits such as managing stress and exercising will help you continue living a healthy life and allow you to get to know your body again.

Whatever your decision, we hope that this has helped you assess the options available to you.

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