Whether you’ve been using hormone therapy for a while or are planning to start for your menopause symptoms, you might wonder how long you should take it. This is all personal to you, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Hormone therapy is personalized to you, so treatment may be different for every woman.
Recommended Timelines for Menopausal Hormone Therapy
To start, let’s look at some general guidelines and recommendations. One of the most common recommendations is to use HRT at the lowest dose and for the least amount of time needed to help relieve menopause symptoms. This means it’s individualized to you, your symptoms, and treatment goals.
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), benefits for hormone replacement therapy for menopause generally outweigh the risks for most women. If you’ve dealt with menopause symptoms, you might know what we’re talking about. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and more can take a toll on your health and quality of life.
In the past, recommendations were to use hormones for less than five years and stop completely before you turn 60. In fact, most women do successfully stop hormone replacement therapy within five years. However, NAMS and most healthcare professionals have updated their guidelines to be more personalized. Now, older women can stay on hormones after 60 if needed for symptom relief.
While most women notice their symptoms go away a few months or years after menopause, others have persistent symptoms that can interfere with their lives. For instance, hot flashes can last ten to twenty years after menopause. In these cases, stopping hormones could lead to dealing with symptoms that affect your wellbeing, so you might choose to use hormones for longer or find other treatments to help.
If you do choose to take hormones for longer than five years, then you and our provider will talk about benefits and risks to find a solution that suits you. For example, maybe it’s time for a lower dose, or even finding alternative treatments to help with your symptoms, or maybe it makes the most sense to continue with hormone treatments.
If you’re thinking about stopping HRT, our providers can help you determine the risks and benefits. We can also help you determine when and how to stop as well as help you along the way.
Symptoms May Come Back When Stopping Treatment
One of the risks of stopping hormone therapy is that your symptoms could return. For example, if you started hormones to help with hot flashes and sleep problems, they might come back after you stop using hormones.
When stopping HRT, some women don’t have their symptoms return, while some do. In some cases, they may return but be much more manageable than before. In other cases, they may be just as severe as the day you started hormone treatments for your symptoms.
Some symptoms you might experience when stopping hormones include:
If these occur, our providers work with you to find a treatment solution for your needs. For instance, it might mean staying on therapy, gradually weaning off hormones, or even non-hormonal treatments. It’s important to understand that there are treatment options! Finding strategies and treatments to help manage your symptoms may help you successfully stop hormone therapy, or it may not be the right time for you to stop. Whatever the case, our team is here to help you feel your best and take care of your health.
Tapering off of HRT
When you decide to stop hormones, you can stop suddenly or you can taper off of treatment. Once again, there is no right answer for all women who want to stop taking hormones. However, most doctors recommend tapering.
Tapering off of HRT involves slowly reducing your dose to nothing over a period of time. You can do this by lowering the dose, taking fewer doses each week, or a combination of both. Our provider will work with you to figure out which option is best for you.
Most commonly, tapering involves reducing the number of hormones you take by about 10% each week. This may help your body adjust to the lack of estrogen and progesterone in your bloodstream.
Also, if your symptoms return after tapering down to a certain level, we may recommend staying on that dose until your symptoms subside before reducing the dose again. This may help you feel more comfortable and help reduce the risk of lowering your quality of life due to menopause symptoms.
Tapering off of hormones can take months or even a year or two, depending on your situation. For example, if your current dose is a little higher, it may take longer than someone who starts tapering at a lower dose. Also, if your symptoms return, we may recommend tapering hormone therapy more slowly than for someone who doesn’t have their symptoms return.
If you’re planning to stop hormone treatments, our doctors can help personalize your experience to help you continue to feel your best.
Advanced Healthcare Before, During, and After Menopause
Even after stopping hormones for menopause, it’s still important to see our providers regularly for checkups. Getting your regular health screenings and talking about your overall health can also help you feel good and keep doing the things you love. We’re here to help with everything you need to take care of your health.
At HerKare, our clinic is run by women for women. We’re here to help you feel your best at every stage of life. Our team listens and understands to help you find personalized treatment options that suit you and your needs. We’ll even help you understand what’s covered and share financial information to help you make a plan that suits both your lifestyle and your budget. Make an appointment today to experience advanced and caring women’s healthcare solutions from HerKare!
Early menopause and premature menopause can sound pretty alarming, but we’re here to help! Bioidentical hormones and lifestyle changes can all help you stay healthy even if you’re going through menopause earlier than expected.
Bioidentical hormones can help reduce symptoms and health issues of premature and early menopause to help you feel great!
Bioidentical Hormones May Help with Early & Premature Menopause
If you’re going through early or premature menopause, bioidentical hormones may help reduce your symptoms and improve your health. Hormones are often used to help treat symptoms like hot flashes for menopausal women, and may also help reduce or relieve your early or premature menopause symptoms.
Also, many doctors recommend starting a hormone replacement therapy program if you start menopause before the age of 45. This can help reduce some of the health risks associated with lower estrogen levels.
What is Early Menopause? What is Premature Menopause?
Menopause happens when your body produces less hormones and eventually stops menstruating. You’ve officially gone through menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. Before this, you might have perimenopause symptoms, like irregular periods, hot flashes, mood changes, and other symptoms.
Early menopause is when you experience menopause between ages 40 and 45. About 5% of women experience early menopause. Premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, is when you experience menopause before age 40. This is even more rare, affecting only about 1% of women.
Nonetheless, it’s important to know the signs of early and premature menopause. One of the first signs is if you haven’t had a period in three months and you’re under 45. This is a sign to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.
Now, missing a period for three months can be caused by a lot of different things. For example, pregnancy or even high stress levels. So, it’s important to keep this in mind and come talk to us about your symptoms.
Depending on your symptoms, we may use a few different things to diagnose premature or early menopause. For instance, we may talk about your symptoms, discuss family and medical history, run hormone tests, and evaluate you for underlying or contributing conditions.
If you are diagnosed with early menopause or premature menopause, we provide personalized treatment plans to help you stay healthy. We know diagnosis may be a shock and you might have a lot of feelings about it. However, there are many early menopause treatment options available, like bioidentical hormones, to help you live your best life!
A lot of the symptoms of early menopause and premature menopause are the same as menopause at the average age. You might notice irregular periods, skipped periods, and other symptoms. Some of these include:
Decreased sex drive
For some women, early menopause symptoms come on quickly, while others experience more gradual symptoms. We’re here to listen and help you find answers. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms and think you may be experiencing premature or early menopause, book an appointment with our healthcare providers.
Why do Early and Premature Menopause Happen?
So, what actually causes early and premature menopause? At the very basic level, any time your eggs don’t mature or don’t get released, this can cause early or premature menopause. Your ovaries are responsible for this process as well as making estrogen and progesterone. When your ovaries aren’t functioning at the level they did during pre-menopause, then menopause can set in, regardless of your age.
There are many different things that could cause premature or early menopause. Some women have a very distinct situation that directly points to the cause. In other women, the reasons may not be entirely clear.
For example, women who undergo chemo or radiation treatments may be at an increased risk for early or premature menopause, as these treatments can damage the ovaries. Certain autoimmune disorders and infections can also affect ovarian function and lead to early or premature menopause.
Surgery to remove the ovaries or the ovaries and uterus is another common cause of early and premature menopause.
Who’s at Risk?
Generally, if you’re related to women who have also experienced early or premature menopause, then you may have an increased risk of it yourself. Many experts believe that the age of menopause is genetic. Most women experience menopause within a few years of the age their mothers did. So, if your mother went through early or premature menopause, you may have a bigger risk of doing so, too.
Smoking is another factor that may increase the risk of early or premature menopause. It can cause damage to your ovaries. This, in turn, can lead you to experience menopause at a younger age.
If you’re over 35, then your risk for early or premature menopause also goes up. Premature menopause before 35 is quite rare.
Also, if you have genetic conditions like Turner’s Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome, you may also be at a higher risk for early or premature menopause.
Bioidentical Hormones May Help Reduce Risks Associated with Early Menopause
If you’re experiencing early or premature menopause, our providers may recommend treatment with bioidentical hormones to help replace the ones your ovaries aren’t producing anymore. The North American Menopause Society recommends women who experience early or premature menopause take hormone replacement therapy until the average age of natural menopause (about 51). This is because there are many risks associated with low estrogen tied to premature and early menopause.
Estrogen plays some pretty important roles in the body. Women who go through early or premature menopause have lower estrogen levels earlier, which can lead to many different problems. Studies have found that women who experience early or premature menopause have an increased risk for heart disease, cognitive impairment like dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even death from any cause.
Bioidentical hormones may help reduce these risks by providing your body with the level of estrogen your ovaries would normally produce. Bioidenticals are the same molecular structure as the hormones your body produces. We use FDA-approved bioidenticals to help treat menopause symptoms.
How Hormone Replacement Therapy Differs for Early and Premature Menopausal Women
When natural menopause occurs after 45, typically hormone replacement therapy includes taking doses much lower than what your ovaries produced during pre-menopause. However, for those with early or premature menopause, we try to mimic your normal ovarian function as closely as possible. This typically means giving you doses close to the levels your ovaries would produce.
It’s important to note that these doses still aren’t high enough to effectively prevent pregnancy. It’s a common misconception that women who go through early and premature menopause cannot get pregnant. However, you may have intermittent ovulation and an estimated 5-10% of women can still get pregnant after being diagnosed with early or premature menopause. This differs from most other women who experience menopause at an older age. Therefore, if you want to prevent pregnancy, you’ll also need to use contraceptives, such as birth control or condoms. Our providers can talk to you about this, too, to help you make the right decisions for your health.
Other Things Our Healthcare Providers May Recommend
In addition to bioidentical hormones, we may also recommend other treatments or lifestyle changes to help with early or premature menopause. We’re your source for total health solutions, and we’re here to help you feel your best. Depending on your situation, our providers may also recommend vitamin supplements, diet changes, exercise, and other healthy changes to help reduce the risk of complications from early or premature menopause as well as help with your symptoms and overall well being.
We Listen. We Understand. We Empower you to Take Care of Your Health at HerKare
Whether you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms or want to take part in a preventative healthcare routine, our providers at HerKare are here to help. Above all, we’re here to listen and help you improve your health. As a clinic owned and operated by women for women, we get it. Finding good healthcare shouldn’t be frustrating or frightening! Whether you’re looking for advice for staying healthy or are interested in testosterone replacement therapy for your declining sex drive, we’re here to help and discuss your options. Book an appointment now at a HerKare location near you for caring, compassionate, high quality care.
“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile,” according to Connie Stevens. However, did you know that your smile could be in danger after menopause? Post-menopausal women are more susceptible to dental health issues like gum disease and tooth loss. However, recent studies suggest that hormone replacement therapy may help keep your smile healthy.
Hormone replacement therapy may help reduce menopause symptoms and even help you protect your teeth and gums.
During menopause, our hormone levels start to decline. This can lead to a higher risk of many different health issues. Now, you may have heard of the increased risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, and other conditions. However, what many people don’t realize is that your mouth can also become more vulnerable after menopause. Some experts estimate that 1 in 4 women will suffer from tooth loss within five years after menopause.
Because the risk for oral health issues goes up after menopause, many researchers are studying the link between hormones and oral health.
After menopause, our risk for several oral health conditions goes up. For example, post-menopausal women are more likely to suffer from:
Periodontal (gum) disease
Gum inflammation (periodontitis)
Bone loss in the jaw
Increased oral sensitivity
Burning mouth syndrome
There may be many different reasons for why post-menopausal women are more susceptible to these dental issues. Hormone changes during menopause may play a role in this increased risk.
How Does Menopause Affect Dental Health?
Did you know your mouth contains estrogen receptors? Estrogen and progesterone do a lot of different things in our bodies, so it makes sense that they may also influence our dental health.
The two major concerns for women after menopause that may lead to dental issues include the increased risk for dry mouth and the risk for bone mineral density loss.
Dry mouth is where you produce an unusually low amount of saliva. This is important because saliva helps keep our teeth and gums moist. It also helps clean the mouth and neutralize acids from plaque. It’s your body’s natural defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Estrogen can affect how much saliva you produce, which means you may have a higher risk of developing dry mouth after estrogen declines during menopause. Some studies have suggested that hormone replacement therapy may help increase the amount of saliva peri- and post-menopausal women produce.
Also, many researchers believe that estrogen has natural anti-inflammatory characteristics. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, you may be more susceptible to a condition called periodontitis. This is an inflammation of the gum tissue that causes it to pull away from your teeth, which can increase your risk for cavities and tooth decay.
Bone mineral density issues are also a concern after menopause. While you may think of broken arms and hips when you think of low bone density, it’s also important to understand that this can affect your jaw as well. Jaw bone loss can contribute to issues with your gums and teeth. For example, bone loss in your jaw may lead to receding gums, which exposes more of the tooth’s surface. This can increase your risk for tooth decay.
How Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Help?
Many believe that hormones may play a role in why post-menopausal women are more likely to suffer from dental health issues. One recent study published in the North American Menopause Society’s journal, Menopause, suggests that hormone replacement therapy may help reduce the risk for gum disease and, by association, tooth loss.
Hormone Replacement Therapy May Help Reduce Your Risk for Gum Disease
Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Hormone changes may influence our risk for gum disease. The study looked at 500 women ages 50 to 87 and looked at whether hormone replacement therapy had an effect on dental health. The women in the study were split into two groups. One group received hormone therapy as well as calcium and vitamin D supplements. The other group did not. The research showed some interesting results for the hormone replacement therapy group.
In the group who received hormones, 44% fewer women had severe gum disease. The researchers looked at several different factors that indicate gum disease. This included how far down the gums attached to the teeth, damage to the structures that support the teeth, and bleeding from the gums. The women in the hormone replacement therapy group noticed significantly fewer issues with these.
Other studies have found that women who receive hormones for menopause had better dental outcomes and even spent less for dental care. Therefore, hormone treatment after menopause may help reduce the risks of dental issues. This may be due to several factors, such as saliva production, bone mineral density, increased blood flow, and reduced inflammation. While research is ongoing, this is an exciting addition to hormone replacement therapy research.
Hormone replacement therapy isn’t right for everyone, so it’s important to talk to our provider about your options.
What Else to Do to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
Whether you’re a candidate for estrogen replacement therapy or not, there are some other things you can do to help keep your teeth and gums healthy after menopause, including:
Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
Reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks in your diet
Eating a balanced diet
Flossing at least once a day
Getting regular dental checkups
Let’s Talk about Your Health Today
At HerKare, we are here to help you address your health at every stage of life. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms that interrupt your life, like hot flashes, night sweats, or mood changes, bioidentical hormones may help relieve some of your symptoms. Our providers are here to talk about your symptoms and help find personalized treatment solutions to help you feel better. Make an appointment today and let’s talk about your health and symptoms.
HRT can help ease symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, sleep issues, and more. Recent research suggests that it may also help with a certain type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, commonly affects people as they reach middle age or older. Women on hormone therapy may benefit from some protective benefits against osteoarthritis.
HRT may help reduce the effects of one of the most common types of arthritis.
HRT May Help with Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a major concern for menopausal and post-menopausal women. In fact, in the Women’s Health Initiative, approximately 77% of the post-menopausal women in the study reported joint pain. Also, 40% noted joint swelling.
Many of the women in the study that started estrogen replacement therapy noted that the frequency of joint pain went down after starting treatment. Therefore, HRT may help reduce joint pain for those with osteoarthritis.
However, another recent study suggests that HRT may even help slow the progression of osteoarthritis. The study conducted in Korea and published in the North American Menopause Society’s journal, Menopause, noted some interesting findings on the effects of hormone therapy and knee arthritis.
In the study, the women who were on HRT for one year or longer had lower rates of osteoarthritis. Rates of arthritis in thehormone replacement therapy group were about 30% lower than those who didn’t take hormones. The researchers also noted that hormone therapy may help reduce the deterioration of cartilage as seen through X-rays.
What is Osteoarthritis?
So, what is osteoarthritis? This is a type of arthritis where the cartilage in your joints wears away. This cartilage sits between the edges of your bones as a type of cushion. It helps protect the edges of your bones.
However, when this wears away, then bone starts to grind on bone. This can leave the bone edges indented and rough. Some symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
About 30 million people suffer from this type of arthritis and it’s one of the leading causes of pain and physical disability. It’s more common for women around the time of menopause. In fact, after age 45, it affects more women than men. Because of this divide, some doctors and medical researchers have considered that declining levels of hormones may play a role and that HRT may help with this type of arthritis.
Why Some Researchers Theorize HRT May Help with Arthritis
You may be wondering why HRT may help with osteoarthritis. While research is ongoing, there are several reasons why researchers are studying this link. As we’ve mentioned, rates of osteoarthritis in women rise dramatically around the average age of menopause. Symptoms also tend to get worse around this time. This has led many to wonder whether the rapid decline in estrogen during menopause may influence this type of arthritis. In addition, because HRT can help with some of the effects of menopause, there’s a question of whether it may help with osteoarthritis as well.
Also, researchers have found that women who undergo a hysterectomy or have their ovaries removed experience higher rates of knee and hand osteoarthritis. These procedures are sort of like an “artificial” menopause that cause estrogen levels to drop significantly, similar to how they do naturally during menopause. Therefore, there may be a link between estrogen levels and this type of arthritis.
How HRT May Help Slow the Progression of Osteoarthritis
So, why might estrogen help slow the progression of osteoarthritis? There may be several factors that may help explain why.
HRT May Help Keep Your Cartilage Strong
One potential answer to help explain the effects of the study is that joint tissues contain estrogen receptors. Therefore, the cartilage in your bones may respond to this hormone. This may help prevent small changes in the cartilage that occur with wear and tear. Also, these estrogen receptors may influence inflammation, which may lead to pain.
In addition, estrogen may help your body process calcium. Calcium is a vitamin that helps build your bones and keep them strong. Therefore, estrogen may also play a role in keeping your bones and joints healthy by this means.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Also, estrogen has naturally anti-inflammatory effects. This can help reduce pain and swelling in your joints if you have arthritis. However, once we enter menopause, our natural estrogen levels drop significantly, which may take away much of the anti-inflammatory protection.
Estrogen replacement therapy can help raise estrogen levels in your body, which may also help fight inflammation. This, in turn, can help reduce swelling and pain from osteoarthritis. Therefore, this may explain why women on HRT report less frequent joint pain.
HRT May Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the most important risk factors for osteoarthritis is obesity. Many women gain weight during menopause and some attribute this in part to a lack of estrogen. Estrogen may play a role in how your body distributes fat. Women on HRT may have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. This could be because of estrogen’s effects on body fat distribution.
Another potential reason why women on hormones for menopause may have an easier time keeping extra pounds off is because HRT can help reduce symptoms that make it difficult to follow a healthy lifestyle.
For example, many women experience sleep problems during menopause because of night sweats. Hormone replacement therapy can help reduce night sweats so you can get a better night’s sleep. When you’re well-rested, it’s often easier to exercise to keep your weight in a healthy range.
This is just one example of how HRT may indirectly affect your overall health in ways that may also help with arthritis. While research continues, these studies are an exciting development in the world of hormone replacement therapy.
Let’s Talk about How We can Help You Feel Your Best
Whether you’re interested in bioidentical hormones to help relieve menopause symptoms or want to discuss other symptoms, our team at HerKare is here for you. Our goal is to provide compassionate, personalized care for women. We offer advanced health care for women at all stages of life. Book an appointment today to learn how we can help you feel better.
In the midst of flu season, the COVID-19 pandemic, and winter, where respiratory illnesses like colds can run rampant, many of us are wondering how to help our immune systems fight off viruses and other bugs that can make us sick. Studies suggest that estrogen replacement therapy may help improve your immune system after menopause.
Estrogen replacement therapy may help your immune system during menopause.
Several studies show thathormone imbalance treatment may help keep your immune system in good shape if you have low estrogen levels. Therefore, if you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, now may be the time to address them with our provider. We conduct a full blood panel to determine if your hormone levels are low and offer personalized care to help you take care of your health.
Your Immune System After Menopause
During our pre-menopausal years, the female immune system is generally stronger and more reactive compared to the male immune system. Many researchers believe this is due, in part, to higher levels of estrogen in our bodies. Studies suggest that estrogen may have an enhancing effect on immune response and our immune systems. Pre-menopausal women are less likely, on average, to experience infections like the flu or colds compared to after menopause. Also, post-menopausal women are more likely to experience more severe infections that may become life-threatening.
Both aging and low estrogen levels may have a negative affect on your immune system, potentially weakening it. After menopause, estrogen levels for most women are about 90% lower than they are before menopause. Therefore, during this stage in our lives, we experience a change in our immune system that may make us more vulnerable to infections. This is a concern at any time, but especially during the winter season where colds, influenza, and other illnesses are more common, as well as during the current pandemic. However, research suggests that hormone replacementmay help regulate some of these immune changes.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Help Improve Immune Response
Estrogens may enhance many different elements of the immune system. For example, estrogens may help stimulate an inflammatory response in your body. This inflammatory response helps you fight off infections if you come into contact with bacteria, viruses, and other germs that can make you sick.
After a hysterectomy, women experience many of the same symptoms as menopause, because they produce lower estrogen levels. Research suggests that estrogen replacement therapy may help reverse some of the immune system changes that happen after a hysterectomy. This suggests that menopausal women may benefit from a stronger immune system when taking estrogen. Other studies have found that hormone therapy was associated with an improved systemic immune response for post-menopausal women. Therefore, estrogen replacement therapy may not only help alleviate uncomfortable menopause symptoms, it may also help your body’s immune system fight infections.
Estrogen & the Flu
There are several medical studies concerning how estrogen affects the immune system. Many of these studies involve the use of estrogen replacement therapy. For example, several studies show that estrogen replacement therapy may help improve menopausal women’s immune response to the influenza vaccine. In one recent study, women who received hormone replacement for menopause symptoms had better antibody responses to flu vaccines compared to those who didn’t take hormones. That study also saw a direct correlation between estrogen levels in the HRT group and the number of vaccine-specific antibodies in the blood.
Another study around estrogen replacement therapy and the flu is that estrogen may help reduce the amount of flu virus that can replicate in your body. When a virus infects one of your cells, it starts replicating itself. These replicated viruses then go on to attack more and more of your cells. The more the virus replicates itself, the more severe an infection can be. The researchers in the study suggested that this may be an added benefit of using hormone imbalance treatment for menopause symptoms.
Why Might Estrogen Play a Role in the Immune System?
Many medical studies look at the effects of declining estrogen levels during menopause on the immune system. Research has found that certain types of white blood cells decline after menopause. Post-menopausal women also generally have higher levels of cytokines, which can cause chronic inflammation. Also, studies have found that immune cell function are also reduced after menopause. Low estrogen levels are also associated with fewer B and T cells. However, estrogen replacement therapy may help reverse some of these effects on the immune system. One reason may be because of hormone receptors in immune cells. This may allow estrogen to help control immune response.
Also, estrogen levels may have an indirect influence on your immune system. Low estrogen levels during menopause may lead to some uncomfortable changes in your life that can affect your immune system. For example, many women experience insomnia during and after menopause. Lack of sleep can take a toll on your immune system and overall health. Another common symptom of menopause is anxiety, which may also affect your immune system the same way high stress levels might. Therefore, other changes during menopause could lead to a weaker immune system. Estrogen replacement therapy may help relieve these symptoms to help you feel your best and live a healthier, more comfortable lifestyle.
Let’s Talk about Estrogen Replacement Therapy for Menopause Symptoms
At HerKare, we are here to help you address your unique health needs at every stage of life. We provide comprehensive healthcare for women in a warm, welcoming environment. Our clinic is owned and operated by women who understand and take time to help you find underlying causes of your symptoms. Whether you’re experiencing uncomfortable menopause symptoms or are looking for preventative well woman care, our providers are here for you. We provide personalized treatment plans based on your lifestyle to help you feel better. Learn more about your health and how we can help you start feeling your best by booking an appointmenttoday! Our team at HerKare is here for you.
An estimated 21% of American households purchase grapefruit juice, with many more eating the fruit whole. While grapefruits do have their positive effects, it’s important to understand that it may cause a drug-food interaction with estrogen replacement therapy. If you’re taking hormones for menopause symptoms, then it may be best to stay away from this citrus. The FDA requires a warning label about grapefruit and estrogen reactions on all estrogen medications, as it may cause serious side effects.
You may need to be careful about what you eat with estrogen replacement therapy. Grapefruits can cause serious food-drug interactions.
Does Grapefruit Affect Estrogen Replacement Therapy?
You might be thinking to yourself, “how much harm can a grapefruit cause?” When it comes to estrogen replacement therapy, it can actually be quite a lot. Grapefruit juice interacts with many different medications, including estrogenhormone imbalance treatment. Grapefruits and grapefruit juice affects how your body absorbs certain medications. In many cases, this may increase the amount of medication that goes into your bloodstream. It may also make medications stay in the body longer. Therefore, mixing grapefruits and estrogensmay lead to serious health consequences from extra high estrogen levels.
How Does Estrogen Replacement Therapy Work?
There are three types of estrogens: estriol, estrone, and estradiol. Estradiol is the more potent form of the hormone, and the National Institute of Health deems it the most form of estrogen in a woman’s body. The goal of estrogen replacement therapy is to bring low estradiol levels back into healthy ranges. This can help with hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and many of the other symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Bioidentical estradiol is an FDA-approved medication for helping relieve menopause symptoms, and this is the hormone replacement treatmentwe use to help treat low estrogen levels.
Estrogens, as well as other types of hormones, are the messengers of the body. They can change how cells in your body function. However, they can only change certain target cells. Target cells have receptors to a particular hormone that allows it to change the cell’s function. Whether naturally produced or as part of your estrogen replacement therapy regimen, estrogens work by binding to estrogen receptors in cells in your body.
How Does Grapefruit Affect Estrogen Levels?
So, how exactly does a grapefruit interact with medications like estradiol? Grapefruits contain organic compounds that affect many different enzymes. One of these enzymes is the CYP3A4 enzyme, primarily found in your liver and digestive tract. Estrogens, whether naturally produced or as part of your hormone imbalance treatment, are metabolized by this enzyme in your liver. By inhibiting these enzymes, grapefruit reduces how much estrogen you can metabolize. This leads to more of the hormone going into your blood.
The effects of grapefruits on your estrogen-metabolizing enzymes can last up to a few days. Over time, with frequent grapefruit consumption while taking estrogen medications, patients may even see estrogen levels increase by up to 30%. In addition, progesterone is also metabolized by the CYP3A4 enzyme. There are currently no studies that show the effects of grapefruit on progesterone. However, some researchers warn against consuming grapefruits with progesterone due to the potentially similar effects.
Can I Consume Any Amount of Grapefruit with Estrogen Replacement Therapy?
A common question we hear is, “what if I just limit how much grapefruit I eat?” Others wonder if it’s okay to drink grapefruit juice so long as it’s not on days when they receive their hormone injection. Unfortunately, even small amounts of grapefruit can affect your estrogen levels. In fact, most of the studies done on grapefruit-drug interactions were based on just one glass of grapefruit juice per day. Even one glass can affect medications for as long as 72 hours. Another study saw that estrogen levels increased significantly after eating just ½ a grapefruit per day.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and other foods with grapefruit in them to be safe when taking estrogen replacement therapy. While this may seem easy, there are some foods and beverages that you wouldn’t expect to have grapefruit ingredients in them. For example, many citrus flavored soft drinks contain some form of grapefruit, so it’s important to check the labels.
What are the Potential Effects of Mixing Grapefruit and Estrogens?
You might be wondering just how bad the effects are of grapefruit and estrogen interactions. By causing more estrogen to enter your bloodstream rather than being metabolized, this can cause serious side effects. High levels of estrogen due to grapefruit consumption during estrogen replacement therapy may cause both short and long-term effects.
Short-Term Side Effects
In the short-term, after eating a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice, you may notice some side effects. Grapefruit juice may increase your risk for experiencing side effects from your hormone imbalance treatment. For example, you might notice menstrual pain, breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, or spotting. Some other effects you may notice is increased bloating, tiredness, or even weight gain. These could be due to the extra estrogen in your blood due to grapefruit’s effects on how your body metabolizes hormones.
Long-Term Effects of High Estrogen Levels
There are some other potential effects of mixing grapefruit with estrogen replacement therapy. Long-term effects may have serious consequences for your health. For example, long-term exposure to high estrogen levels is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. Since grapefruits may lead to high estrogen levels, this is a potential effect. However, it’s important to note that researchers are still studying this potential effect.
Also, while grapefruit juice bottles often bear the American Heart Association’s heart healthy checkmark, mixing it with estrogen has the potential to affect your cardiovascular risks. Grapefruit can increase the amount of estrogen in your body, and high estrogen levels in your body can increase your risk for certain conditions. Some heart problems associated with high estrogen include an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Therefore, it’s important to follow the FDA’s warning against ingesting grapefruit and grapefruit products while taking estrogen replacement therapy.
At HerKare, we provide quality, compassionate health care for women. Our medical professionals take the time to listen to how you’re feeling and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Then, we work to find underlying causes of your symptoms and find personalized treatment solutions for you. Schedule an appointment today to talk to one of our providers so we can help you start feeling better.