Hormone Replacement Therapy Dangers

HRTgraph - 2Growing age, genetic problems, injury, infections, obesity, and tumors on the pituitary gland are just some of the causes of low hormone in men and women. While it is natural for an individual to lose hormones to some extent, drastic reductions in the level of hormones can be a cause of concern and can lead to low libido, testicles, muscle weakness, tiredness, weight gain (especially around the waist), and depression.

In order to treat low hormones, medical practitioners often recommended hormone replacement therapy to help girls and women find relief from pain and lead a normal and balanced life.

For women, hormone replacement therapy or estrogen therapy or menopausal hormone therapy is routinely recommended for vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that can start several years before the last menstrual cycle when levels of hormones are fluctuating. Since estrogens have the potential of reducing vaginal dryness and urethritis, topical estrogen is recommended at least as systemic estrogen. This therapy is commonly recommended to women experiencing low bone density and to delay the onset of dementia and protect against stroke and heart disease. Medical practitioners may recommend different types of commercial hormone therapy products such as estrogens, progestogens, estrogen-progestogen combinations, and androgen-estrogen combinations depending upon patient-to-patient.

Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can increase skin collagen levels that may have declined due to fall in natural estrogen levels. It can even improve moodiness and sleep problems related to hormone changes besides promoting the sense of well being. ERT can even reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes besides reducing the risk of dental problems, such as tooth loss and gum disease.

Also known as estrogen replacement therapy or ERT, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) refers to women using hormone supplements such as estrogen alone or estrogen with another hormone such as progesterone (progestin in its synthetic form). This therapy is useful to replace hormones that the body of a woman should be used to make or making. With this therapy, women can expect regulation of menstrual cycle and reproductive health. HRT is recommended to women going through menopause and who had already gone through it. Natural hormone levels drop during menopause and can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances. It may even be recommended to women with specific health conditions when the body does not make normal levels of the hormones due to medical complications like premature ovarian failure.

During this therapy, estrogen is made to enter the bloodstream directly through an estrogen patch, vaginal ring, or skin cream or gel (transdermal estrogen) without passing through the liver. This therapy should be considered by women experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms and have lost bone mass and either cannot tolerate or aren’t benefitting from other treatments. It may even be suggested to women who have stopped having periods before age 40 (premature menopause) or lost normal function of your ovaries before age 40 (premature ovarian insufficiency). It is worthwhile to note that women experiencing an early menopause, especially those who had their ovaries removed and do not opt for this therapy until at least age 45, face an increased risk of dementia, sexual function concerns, Parkinsonism (Parkinson’s-like symptoms), earlier death, coronary heart disease (CHD), anxiety or depression, or osteoporosis.

This therapy should not be taken by women with past or current history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, blood clots to the legs or lungs, stroke or liver disease. Women who are planning to take this therapy should avoid smoking and should have a word with their doctor about strategies for minimizing the risk of conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis that may include lifestyle changes and medications other than hormone therapy for long-term protection. This therapy is not recommended to pregnant or breastfeeding women or women experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding or having a history of blood clots or a personal history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometrial cancer.

However, this form of therapy is not free from side effects. According to a study appearing in the American Medical Association, hormone replacement therapy or HRT can greatly increase the chances of a patient of breast cancer. Some women may develop symptoms of hormone imbalance, sexual dysfunction, and hot flashes. HRT may even result in side effects such as breast tenderness, increased breast density, gallbladder disease, brain atrophy, increased risk of dementia, decline in memory and cognition, endometrial bleeding, higher rates of abnormal mammograms and breast biopsies, venous thromboembolic events (blood clots), reduced insulin sensitivity, cataracts, and increased risk of cancers, including breast, ovarian, lung, and malignant melanoma. Side effects common with use of oral estrogen include nausea, weight gain, spotting or darkening of the skin, particularly on the face, headaches, vaginal discharge, or increased growth of preexisting uterine fibroids or a worsening of endometriosis.

This form of therapy should only be used when the symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness are severe and discussions with the doctor have concluded. In rare cases, it may lead to side effects, including decreasing body hair, changes in cholesterol and lipids levels, difficulties in concentration and memory, moodiness, and anxiety or lethargy, glucose problems, poor serum Hematocrit, low red and white blood cells, and increase in Prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Some women may experience itching, irritation, blistering, redness, soreness, hair loss, and acne while others may experience acne, male pattern baldness, hair loss, increase in clitoris size, decreased size of breasts, and deepening of the voice.

However, the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy can be reduced or even eliminated by following certain tips and precautions. It is important for female patients about to undergo HRT to discuss the benefits and risks of the therapy with their doctor in light of their medical history. Moreover, the patients should have talk to the doctor about ways to managing menopausal symptoms and any post-menopausal conditions. In addition to that, the female patients should eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink alcohol only moderately, and avoid smoking for preventing osteoporosis and coronary heart disease. It is important to note that HRT ((Estrogen with or without Progestin) should not be used for preventing or treating coronary heart disease or stroke.