If you have menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes, you might be wondering what treatments are available. Many women use estrogen replacement therapy to reduce symptoms and side effects of menopause. However, some people wonder if phytoestrogens, also known as plant estrogens, are a good alternative to hormone therapy. We’ll explore this question and recent research on phytoestrogens in this article.
You can find phytoestrogens in many foods, but they may not be enough to replace estrogen replacement therapy as a menopause treatment.
What is Estrogen Replacement Therapy?
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is a common treatment option for women with menopause symptoms. As you reach menopause, your hormone levels start to decline, including estrogen and progesterone. This is what causes your periods to stop. However, low hormone levels can also lead to menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. Lower estrogen levels during menopause can also increase your risk for other health conditions, like heart disease, osteoporosis, and strokes.
Estrogen replacement therapy is a treatment where you take medications to increase the estrogen levels in your blood. This can alleviate many of the symptoms and health risks of menopause. In fact, ERT is considered one of the most effective treatment solutions for menopausal hot flashes.
There are many kinds of estrogen replacement therapies or modalities to choose from. Medications can come in patches, pills, injections, and many other forms. You also typically have the choice between synthetic and bioidentical versions.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Our providers at HerKare typically use bioidentical hormone therapy to help with menopause symptoms. Bioidentical hormones are identical to the type of estrogen your ovaries naturally produce. Scientists use estrogens found in plants and alter them to match human estrogen. By contrast, synthetic estrogens are not the same molecular structure as natural estrogen, which means that your body uses them slightly differently. Many people prefer bioidentical hormones because they are molecularly identical to the natural hormones that your body produces on its own.
What are Phytoestrogens?
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals found in plants. In fact, bioidentical hormones often start out as phytoestrogens extracted from different sources like wild yams, cactus, and soy plants. Professionals in medical labs then convert these to bioidentical forms of estrogen and other hormones.
Phytoestrogens are similar to the estrogen you make in your ovaries but do have some differences. For instance, phytoestrogens can bind to the estrogen receptors in your body. However, they do typically have weaker effects compared to human or bioidentical estrogen.
Soy Offers Higher Levels of Phytoestrogens
There are many sources of phytoestrogens, including flaxseeds, tea, fruits, and vegetables. Soy is a food that is high in phytoestrogens. Specifically, soy offers high levels of isoflavones, which is the most potent type of phytoestrogen.
Many people believe soy has amazing benefits because cultures that typically have high soy diets also tend to have lower rates of heart disease, longer lifespans, fewer menopause symptoms, and other positive health markers. However, soy is still being studied and its effects on the body are complicated. There are still many questions when it comes to soy, including whether it’s beneficial or safe to eat it in large quantities.
As far as how soy compares to estrogen replacement therapy for menopause symptoms, the evidence is inconclusive. We’ll get into some of the recent research done on phytoestrogens, but keep in mind that a lot of the evidence regarding soy and hot flashes is conflicting.
Can Phytoestrogens Replace Estrogen Replacement Therapy for Menopause?
The big question many have is whether you can simply eat more foods with phytoestrogens (or take phytoestrogen supplements) instead of starting estrogen replacement therapy. Scientists are still researching phytoestrogens and the role they play. However, a lot of the research has been disappointing. Here are some things you should know about the results of phytoestrogen studies for menopause symptoms:
The Evidence is Conflicting on Whether Phytoestrogens Help Menopause Symptoms
As we mentioned, research is still ongoing, but a lot of the studies have conflicting results. Some studies have found positive effects from phytoestrogens, with some women noticing improvement in their hot flash symptoms. However, other studies have found no difference between phytoestrogens and placebo. Also, even the positive studies often don’t offer similar results. For instance, while some have found over a 50% reduction in the number and severity of hot flashes with phytoestrogens, others have found small reductions of just one hot flash per day for women who suffer from on average 10 to 12 each day. Therefore, a lot of the evidence for phytoestrogens is up for debate.
Phytoestrogens May be Anti-Estrogenic
Another potential issue with taking phytoestrogens is that they can actually be anti-estrogenic. This basically means that they may block estrogen receptors or reduce how much estrogen your body produces.
For one, phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors, which can block them from the real estrogen in your blood. Since phytoestrogens have much weaker effects than human estrogen, this could affect the cells in your body and your overall health.
What’s more, too many phytoestrogens could lead to lower estrogen levels overall. To understand why, let’s go over a quick crash course on how your body produces estrogen: The hypothalamus is part of your brain responsible for controlling sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. When it senses that you have low estrogen in your blood, it sends a signal to the pituitary gland, which releases follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone reaches your ovaries and causes them to increase estrogen production.
However, phytoestrogens can actually disrupt this process. In some cases, your hypothalamus may not realize that your body needs to produce more estrogen because it believes that the phytoestrogens are human estrogen. Therefore, many women may experience even lower estrogen levels when eating a diet high in phytoestrogens or taking phytoestrogen supplements.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy is Still the Recommended Treatment for Menopause Symptoms
Because of the lack of evidence and conflicting research results, many scientists now believe that the benefits of phytoestrogens have been overstated. Currently, estrogen replacement therapy is still the go-to treatment option for women with hot flashes and menopause symptoms. ERT has been shown time and time again to be effective at reducing hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms of menopause. This form of hormone therapy has also been well studied for decades. As such, many health care providers recommend using estrogen replacement therapy for your menopause symptoms unless there is a reason you can’t, such as a history of breast cancer, liver disease, or having a high risk for blood clots.
Of course, every woman is different, so it’s important to talk to our providers about your options. If you’re currently taking phytoestrogen supplements, let our providers know. Our team can discuss the benefits and risks to help you determine whether to keep taking them. Our goal is to help you improve your health as a whole and feel your best.
Find Treatment Solutions at HerKare
Our professionals at HerKare are here to help you find personalized solutions to improve your health. We offer health care for women at every stage of life. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, visit one of our convenient clinic locations to discuss your options and find treatment solutions that work well for you. Make an appointment today to get started!
If you’re considering hormone therapy for menopause symptoms, you may have noticed that most doctors recommend taking progesterone replacement therapy with estrogen unless you’ve had a hysterectomy. Many people wonder why this is. You might wonder if you really need progesterone to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Let’s talk about why our providers frequently prescribe both progesterone and estrogen for women in menopause.
What is Progesterone Replacement Therapy?
Progesterone replacement therapy may be an important part of your menopause care plan.
Progesterone replacement therapy is just like any other hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in that it supplements and replaces natural levels of a hormone in your body. In this instance, the hormone is progesterone. Like other types of HRT, it comes in many forms and doses. For women who still have their uterus, progesterone is almost always prescribed with estrogen therapies.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Progesterone is a type of sex hormone in your body, like estrogen and testosterone. Many people refer to progesterone as the “pregnancy hormone,” as it’s important for making the uterus a good environment for a fertilized egg. It also does many other things during pregnancy, like helping your breasts get ready to produce breast milk.
However, progesterone has many other functions in the body. Progesterone and estrogen work in tandem to regulate the menstrual cycle before menopause. Estrogen grows the uterine lining (the endometrium) and helps your body get ready for ovulation. Progesterone, on the other hand, helps prepare the uterus to receive a fertilized egg and, if you don’t become pregnant, levels drop and cause you to have your period.
During menopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels drop and become more sporadic. This is what causes irregular periods and other symptoms associated with perimenopause. As you produce less and less, you stop having periods altogether and reach menopause.
Progesterone Replacement Therapy Paired with Estrogen for Menopausal Women
Fluctuating and declining hormone levels are the cause behind menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and sleep problems. These symptoms can range from bothersome to debilitating for some women. If you experience symptoms that interfere with everyday life, our hormone doctor may recommend starting a hormone replacement therapy regimen to help reduce your symptoms. If you still have your uterus, you will likely need to take both progesterone and estrogen for menopause treatment. This is also known as combination hormone replacement therapy.
Why You Need Both Estrogen and Progesterone if You Still Have Your Uterus
You might be wondering why progesterone replacement therapy is so important if you still have your uterus. The reason is that estrogen alone, while effective for treating many menopause symptoms, can cause the lining of your uterus to become too thick. Before menopause, the uterine lining thickens and then your body sheds it during your period, but this process stops after your last period. The problem is, if the uterine lining becomes too thick, it can increase the risk for endometrial cancer. Therefore, estrogen-only therapy may increase your risk for uterine cancer.
Progesterone comes to the rescue here because it stops the thickening process. This hormone keeps estrogen in balance to reduce the uterine cancer risks associated with estrogen replacement therapy. Therefore, if you still have a uterus, progesterone replacement therapy is essential for reducing risks associated with estrogen-only treatments.
Are There Risks of Estrogen and Progesterone Replacement Therapy?
Like any other medication or treatment, there are risks to taking combination hormone replacement therapy. Specifically, researchers believe that higher progesterone levels can increase the risk for breast cancer. Data from the Women’s Health Initiative suggest that combining progesterone and estrogen can increase a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer by about one-tenth of a percent per year.
While the risk is relatively low, it’s important to weigh this drawback against the potential benefits of combination therapy. Also, many experts suggest not taking progesterone unless needed to reduce risks of uterine cancer from estrogen-only treatments. Though, it’s important to understand that hormone replacement therapy is a really individualized treatment. There is no one approach that fits all women. Therefore, you should talk about your individual circumstances with our providers.
Is Progesterone Replacement Therapy Ever Prescribed On Its Own?
We’ve talked a lot about combining estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms. However, you might be wondering if progesterone is ever used on its own for menopause. This isn’t a very common treatment plan because most menopause symptoms are due to low estrogen levels. However, some studies have found that progesterone alone can help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and other common symptoms of menopause. Still, estrogen replacement therapy is currently the most effective option for treating these symptoms for menopausal women, which makes it the go-to treatment solution.
Who Doesn’t Need Progesterone Replacement Therapy for Menopause Symptoms?
Not everyone needs to take progesterone with estrogen for hormone replacement therapy. In fact, estrogen alone comes with fewer long-term risks for women who do not have a uterus. In these cases, our providers may recommend estrogen-only therapy because there is no need to worry about the increased risk for endometrial cancer. As we mentioned, the risk of adding progesterone to your treatment regimen is a slightly increased risk for breast cancer. Therefore, if you have had a hysterectomy, typically we recommend estrogen-only options to reduce this risk.
How Does Combination Estrogen and Progesterone Replacement Therapy Work?
If your hormone doctor prescribes combination hormone replacement therapy, this means you will take both estrogen and progesterone to help treat your menopause symptoms. There are a couple of different ways to go about this. One may work better for you than the other. Our doctors can discuss your individual needs and find a treatment plan that works best for you. However, here are some things to know about continuous and cyclical menopausal hormone therapy:
Continuous combination hormone therapy means you take both estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy for treatment. This option is where you take both bioidentical hormones every day to reduce symptoms and health risks during menopause. This often makes treatment simpler and easier to use for many people, as the treatment is the same each day. Continuous HRT also reduces or eliminates vaginal bleeding, which can occur with cyclical hormone therapy.
Cyclical hormone therapy looks a little different for everyone, and there are many ways to go about this treatment plan. For instance, some women take estrogen only for a certain period of time, usually about 14 days, then use progesterone and estrogen for about 11 days. For the remaining three to five days, they do not take hormones. The idea is to mimic hormone levels during an average menstrual cycle. However, other women take estrogen every day for several months (usually about three months) and then take progesterone replacement therapy with estrogen for about two weeks or so after that time. Your hormone doctor can help you determine if this type of hormone replacement therapy is right for you.
One of the benefits of cyclical HRT is that it can reduce your exposure to progesterone over time, which may help offset some of the risks associated with progesterone replacement therapy. However, some of the disadvantages include a more complicated treatment plan to remember and maintain, as well as possible menstrual-like bleeding on the days you take progesterone and estrogen together. So, it’s important to discuss the options with our providers and find the option that works best for you.
Get Individualized Care from an Experienced Hormone Doctor at HerKare Women’s Clinics
Our professionals at HerKare are here to help you improve your health and quality of life through personalized treatment plans. We understand the need for individualized care tailored to you and your lifestyle. Our providers work hard to find underlying causes of your symptoms and identify treatment solutions that work well for you. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, know that our team is here to help you find relief. Book an appointment today at one of our convenient locations to talk to our doctors about your symptoms and treatment options!
Menopause comes with many changes. Many women experience disruptive symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia. Another issue that people don’t seem to talk about as much is anxiety. Anxiety during menopause may be due to several factors, including hormone fluctuations during and after menopause. Because hormones can have such an impact on mood and anxiety, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may help alleviate your symptoms. Let’s talk about menopause, anxiety, and HRT.
HRT Can Help Alleviate Menopause Symptoms
Say goodbye to menopause symptoms with HRT to balance your hormones.
Before we get into HRT for menopausal anxiety, let’s go over what HRT is and why you may need it during menopause. Hormone replacement therapy refers to medications that supplement your natural hormone levels. During menopause, women may have a regimen of estrogen and progesterone to help even out hormone levels. Many women also take testosterone replacement therapy.
The goal for HRT is to alleviate menopause symptoms, which are typically brought on by low and imbalanced hormone levels. During menopause, our bodies start to produce significantly less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Levels may fluctuate leading up to our last period, sometimes being higher or lower than normal. After we reach our last period and enter post-menopause, our ovaries produce much less of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
These hormone changes can cause many symptoms, some of which you’re probably familiar with. They include symptoms like:
Low sex drive
Low hormone levels after menopause can also increase the risk for many health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Our providers may prescribe HRT to help relieve your symptoms during menopause, particularly if you experience hot flashes, as hormone therapy is one of the most effective treatments for menopausal hot flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms. However, HRT may also help with many other symptoms, such as mood changes, including depressive and anxiety symptoms.
The Link Between Menopause and Anxiety
Many women say they feel more anxious during menopause. In fact, an estimated 23% of women experience anxiety symptoms during menopause. Therefore, it’s no surprise you might be wondering if menopause can cause anxiety or whether there is a connection. Anxiety is a pretty complex condition, so there may be many factors at play. However, hormone and life changes may contribute to feeling anxious during menopause.
Some symptoms of anxiety include:
Increased heart rate
Tingly or numb hands
Every woman is different, but generally if you have past history of anxiety symptoms, your risk for experiencing anxiety-like symptoms in menopause may be higher. However, there does appear to be a connection between menopause and anxiety, as some studies show that menopausal women are more likely to experience anxiety symptoms and panic attacks compared to pre- or post-menopausal women of the same age.
Some factors that may explain the increased rates of anxiety during menopause include hormone levels and life changes that are common during this time.
Hormone Changes and Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Anxiety Symptoms
One reason you may experience anxiety during menopause is due to changing hormone levels. As we mentioned, hormones during menopause typically start to fluctuate, change, and decrease. Low estrogen levels during this time are likely responsible for many menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and mood changes. Many believe estrogen also plays a role in anxiety during menopause. Many women notice their anxiety symptoms get better after beginning HRT with estrogen for their menopause symptoms. In fact, one 2009 study in Gender Medicine journal looked at the relationship between estrogen and behavior linked with anxiety and depression. The researchers found that higher scores for anxiety and depression were associated with lower estrogen levels. Therefore, low estrogen and hormone imbalances during menopause may contribute to anxiety during this stage of life.
Other Reasons for Anxiety During Menopause
However, there may be other factors at play if you’re feeling anxious during menopause. The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51, which is also an age where many of us experience other life changes as well.
For instance, many women become empty nesters at this time, which can change many family and relationship dynamics. You might be caring for aging parents and dealing with the stressors that come along with it. This is often also a time of high stress in many people’s careers. Some also go through a period where they are re-discovering themselves and may struggle with insecurity. Therefore, many life changes that often happen during the time of menopause can also contribute to mood changes and feelings of anxiety.
Can HRT Help with Anxiety During Menopause?
Since menopausal anxiety may have a hormonal component to it, you might wonder whether HRT can help relieve anxiety symptoms during menopause. Some studies do suggest that estrogen may have some anti-anxiety properties. Of course, you should talk to our providers to find personalized treatment options based on your specific circumstances. However, research from Harvard and Emory University suggests estrogen may play a big role in anxiety.
HRT with Estrogen May Lower Fear Response & Anxiety
According to The Harvard Gazette, recent research shows that estrogen levels may affect how susceptible some women are to anxiety. The article explains that depression and anxiety disorders are about twice as common in women than in men, with times of higher anxiety often linking up with hormone changes, such as puberty, certain periods of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and during menopause.
Both studies looked at fear response in relation to estrogen. They found that estrogen may have a calming effect on the fear response, including for women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, there is some evidence that increasing estrogen may reduce anxiety-like symptoms. Researchers are still studying the effects of HRT on anxiety in menopausal women, but many women notice improvements in their mood symptoms after beginning an HRT regimen.
Why Might HRT Help with Anxiety During Menopause?
Estrogen is a sex hormone, so you might be wondering what it has to do with anxiety and why hormone imbalance treatment may help with anxiety symptoms. Scientists are still studying the connection. However, it may be due to estrogen receptors in the brain that can increase the risk for anxiety. For instance, estrogen receptors may affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is basically the relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland. The key detail to note here is that this axis has a large impact on your body’s response to stress. Some researchers also believe estrogen receptors in the brain can impact serotonin levels, which may also explain the link between estrogen and anxiety.
Hormone Imbalance Treatment from HerKare
If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, visit our providers at HerKare for help. We are a women’s health clinic dedicated to empowering women through quality health care. Our team takes a holistic approach to health care and provides treatment solutions personalized to you. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a hormone imbalance, our team may prescribe bioidentical hormone therapy to help alleviate your symptoms. Make an appointment at one of our convenient locations today!
Low estrogen levels during menopause can cause many different symptoms and health concerns. As you may know, declining estrogen is responsible for symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes during menopause. However, many people don’t realize that low estrogen during menopause can also lead to other issues like overactive bladder. Let’s discuss the link between estrogen and overactive bladder (OAB) and what you can do to help with OAB during menopause.
Low estrogen might cause changes in your pelvic muscles and bladder that affect your everyday activities.
Low Estrogen During Menopause Can Lead to Overactive Bladder
Many people experience overactive bladder. However, overactive bladder is more common in women, and the risk for OAB increases as we approach middle age. This is also the time where our hormone levels begin to fluctuate, eventually leading to menopause.
Overactive bladder is a health condition an estimated 33 million Americans experience. This condition affects your bladder control and can cause unwanted symptoms that affect everyday life. Overactive bladder is a type of urinary incontinence and is also known as urgency incontinence. OAB is different from stress incontinence, which can cause you to leak urine when there’s extra pressure on your bladder, such as when you cough, sneeze, or laugh. Instead, overactive bladder generally means you experience frequent and urgent feeling that you need to pee, often at inconvenient times.
Symptoms of Overactive Bladder
Overactive bladder can cause many symptoms. You might have overactive bladder if you:
Experience sudden urges to urinate immediately
Can’t “hold it” until you can make it to the toilet
Experience urine leaks right after a sudden urge to urinate
Wake up at night frequently to pee
Urinate more than eight times in a 24-hour day
As you can see, overactive bladder can be a disruptive condition that may affect your overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are treatments available.
It’s important to understand that overactive bladder is not a normal part of aging. Our providers can help you find treatment solutions based on your needs and lifestyle, including increasing estrogen levels in your body if low estrogen is to blame for your OAB.
Low estrogen can cause many changes in the body, including weaker pelvic muscles and a thinner urethra lining. These changes may increase the risk for overactive bladder and poor bladder control after menopause.
Low Estrogen Weakens the Pelvic Muscles
The higher estrogen levels we have in our bodies before menopause may have a protective effect on the pelvic muscles. Estrogen can help keep the pelvic muscles strong before menopause. Strong pelvic muscles support the bladder and also assist with the ability to hold in your urine until you can make it to the bathroom.
Low estrogen during and after menopause can cause pelvic muscles to become weaker, reducing bladder support and your ability to hold in your urine. In turn, this can cause overactive bladder symptoms, like frequent and strong urges to urinate or not being able to make it to the restroom in time.
Low Estrogen May Thin the Lining of the Urethra
Declining estrogen levels during menopause can also affect the lining of your urethra, which is the tube that connects your bladder to the outside of the body. The lining of the urethra is made up of muscle tissue that allows it to contract and expand. When you use the restroom, the lining relaxes while the bladder contracts to let the urine out of your bladder and into the toilet.
However, low estrogen can cause this lining to become thinner and less elastic. This may also explain the connection between menopause and overactive bladder, as a thinner lining may make it more difficult to prevent urine leaks when you experience the urge to urinate.
Other Explanations for the Link Between Estrogen Levels and Overactive Bladder
There may also be other explanations for why low estrogen levels can increase the risk of overactive bladder. For instance, lower estrogen during menopause can lead to more frequent urinary tract infections, which is where a bacteria builds up in the urinary tract and causes an infection. UTIs can also cause inflammation and irritation throughout the urinary tract and bladder, which may cause some of the same symptoms as overactive bladder like frequency, urgency, and incontinence. However, without treatment, UTIs can lead to issues like permanent kidney damage or even sepsis. Therefore, your symptoms of OAB could actually be an infection that may turn life-threatening if left untreated. If you’re experiencing symptoms of overactive bladder, it’s important to seek help from one of our providers to rule out a UTI and get treatment.
Another potential reason many women experience overactive bladder after menopause is due to increased pressure on the bladder. It’s common for women to gain weight around the time of menopause. Those extra pounds can also put added stress on the bladder and make it harder to control urges to urinate or hold in your urine until you can reach the restroom. Therefore, menopausal weight gain could also be part of the problem when it comes to overactive bladder.
Women’s Hormone Care May Help with Overactive Bladder
Because of the association between estrogen levels and overactive bladder, many researchers have been studying the effects of hormone therapy on overactive bladder. One 2020 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that vaginal estrogen may help relieve overactive bladder symptoms. The researchers believe this is due to a type of good bacteria called Lactobacillus.
Lactobacillus is a type of bacteria found in the gut, vagina, and also in the bladder. Yet, low estrogen levels can reduce the amount of this good bacteria in your body. The study looked at the number of Lactobacillus bacteria in the bladder for women using estrogen replacement therapy. They found that those using vaginal estrogen had more of the bacteria in their bladder and also saw some improvements in their overactive bladder symptoms.
Therefore, women’s hormone care may help with your overactive bladder symptoms. For example, it’s common to use vaginal estrogen to help strengthen the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area and urethra, which may work well for your overactive bladder.
Other Treatments for Overactive Bladder
There are also many other treatment options available for overactive bladder which may work well for you. When you discuss your symptoms with our team, we may recommend some of these treatments to help you improve bladder control and symptoms.
For example, our providers may recommend lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the pressure on the bladder. We may also recommend Kegel exercises, which can strengthen the pelvic muscles. Also, scheduled bathroom breaks, even if you don’t feel the urge to go, can help retrain your bladder to prevent those strong and sudden urges to urinate.
Other treatment options include medications. Typically, the medications are designed to relax the bladder to help with the symptoms of urgency. These often come in pills or patches you use each day. However, some people also receive small doses of Botox in the bladder to help relax the muscles. Our providers can discuss personalized treatment options for you.
Healthcare for Women at HerKare
Our team at HerKare is dedicated to providing quality healthcare for women. We are a clinic owned and managed by women and are here to help you improve your health. Whether you need a hormone doctor for your menopause symptoms or need preventative well woman care, our providers listen, understand, and help you take care of your overall wellbeing. Make an appointment today at one of our convenient locations.
If it seems like every time you look in the mirror you find more wrinkles and sagging, you might be searching for ways to stop the signs of aging on your skin. Many women experience what seems like accelerated signs of aging on their skin after menopause. However, we have some good news. Some recent evidence suggests that estrogen replacement therapy may help prevent some of the signs of aging and may promote healthy skin. Researchers are still studying the effects of estrogen on the skin, but many of the studies have been encouraging. Let’s talk about estrogen, menopause, aging, and your skin.
Why Our Providers May Recommend Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Estrogen replacement therapy may help with menopause symptoms and some studies suggest it may also help prevent some skin aging concerns.
First, let’s discuss why a hormone doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy. While everyone is different, one of the most common reasons our providers prescribe hormone therapy is to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Many menopause symptoms are unpleasant and can even interfere with everyday life. For instance, some of the symptoms you might experience during menopause include:
Declining levels of estrogen during menopause are primarily to blame for these symptoms. Fortunately, many women find symptom relief through a hormone replacement therapy regimen. This is why our providers may recommend beginning estrogen replacement therapy during menopause.
Menopause may also have negative effects on your skin which can make you look older. For instance, after menopause skin thickness typically decreases by about 1% each year for the first five years after menopause. Collagen in your skin also tends to decrease by 2% each year for about 20 years after menopause. Low estrogen levels may also be responsible for some of these changes, which is why researchers are looking into the potential anti-aging effects of estrogen. Research is still ongoing, but much of the evidence so far is positive.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Have Beneficial Effects for Your Skin
There are many factors that can make our skin look older. Environmental, genetic, and hormone conditions can all contribute to common signs of aging. Declining hormone levels during and after menopause may contribute to issues like increasing number of wrinkles, deeper wrinkles, less elasticity, dryness, as well as other skin issues that tend to make us look older. There are many estrogen receptors in the skin, particularly in the skin on your face. This may explain some of the effects of menopause on your skin. However, some research indicates estrogen replacement therapy may help prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging.
This small study included eleven women who did not use hormone therapy after menopause and 9 women who did use hormone therapy long-term for menopause symptoms. All the women had similar characteristics that might contribute to wrinkles and skin rigidity, such as age, sun exposure, and tobacco use. The researchers had a plastic surgeon assess the appearance of the skin without knowing who was in the control group and who was in the hormone replacement therapy group. The women who didn’t use hormone therapy on average had more wrinkles, deeper wrinkles, and more rigid skin.
Based on the results, the researchers concluded that estrogen may promote skin health and may also prevent wrinkles and skin rigidity to help the skin look younger. While estrogen likely won’t reverse or erase signs of aging, it may offer some protection against wrinkles and other common skin concerns in menopausal women.
Estrogen’s Effects on the Skin
Estrogen may impact the look of your skin in many ways. Researchers are still studying the reasons why estrogen may prevent some signs of skin aging. Estrogen may affect skin cell production, collagen production, hydration, and thickness of your skin. All these factors can affect the appearance of your skin.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Improve Skin Cell Production
Some researchers believe that estrogen moderates the production of keratinocytes. These are skin cells that make up nearly 90% of the cells in the top layer of your skin. When we are young, skin cells are in a near-constant state of turnover. The dead skin cells slough off rapidly as the lower levels of your skin produce more new skin cells. However, this process tends to slow down as we age, and declining estrogen levels during menopause may play a role in this. Estrogen replacement therapy may help increase skin cell production which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dull skin.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Increase Collagen
Another way estrogen may help prevent signs of aging on your skin is through collagen production. Estrogen receptors may also act on the fibroblasts in the dermal layer of your skin. Fibroblasts are responsible for creating collagen, which provides the main support structure for your skin. As collagen production declines, the skin can start to sag and develop more wrinkles. However, estrogen may increase how much collagen your skin produces to help prevent these issues.
Estrogen May Improve Skin Hydration
Female hormones estrogen and progesterone can also improve hydration for the skin. For instance, hormones can affect how much sebum your body produces. Sebum is an oily substance that coats your skin and hair to help with moisturization and protection. As we enter menopause, sebum production can also slow down, leading to chronically dry skin. Dry skin can make wrinkles and fine lines look much deeper than they truly are. However, many researchers have found that estrogen replacement therapy can help increase hydration and moisture in the epidermis.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Increase Skin Thickness
Your hormones can also have a pretty big impact on how thick your skin is. Thinner skin tends to become more wrinkled, less elastic, dryer, and also more easily damaged. During our pre-menopausal years, the skin actually gets thinner at certain points of the menstrual cycle, particularly right before your period where your estrogen levels are at their lowest. Therefore, low estrogen levels during menopause may contribute to thinning skin as we age. Some studies have found that estrogen replacement therapy may increase skin thickness significantly after menopause.
Other Skin Care Tips for Menopause
Of course, there are many other things you can do to help take care of your skin during and after menopause. Estrogen isn’t the fountain of youth – even if it does help prevent some wrinkles, it isn’t a cure-all for aging. Hormones are only one part of what ages your skin over time. Embracing your skin as it changes and taking part in a good skincare regimen can also help keep your skin healthy in menopause.
For instance, you may experience dry skin after menopause. In these cases, it can help to switch to a milder cleanser and to moisturize more often and with heavier creams. Also, sun damage can lead to even thinner skin after menopause. Wearing sunscreen can help reduce sun damage that may cause issues like thinning skin, age spots, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. In addition, retinol products can help increase collagen, which may help with wrinkles or sagging skin. So, whether you’re taking bioidentical hormones for menopause or not, there are many things you can do to help your skin after menopause.
Talk to Our Health Care Specialists at HerKare
Our team at HerKare is here to help you feel like the best version of yourself. We empower you to take control of your health through convenient, affordable healthcare. We understand you want to feel and look your best at every stage of life, which is why we offer personalized care for everything from wellness exams to menopausal hormone therapy. You can trust us to listen to your concerns and work with you to find treatment options that work well for you. Make an appointment today to discuss your health and symptoms with our caring team of medical professionals.
Progesterone replacement therapy is a type of hormone therapy that boosts progesterone levels to healthy ranges. Progesterone is an important hormone in your body that performs many different functions. Recent evidence suggests that progesterone may also play a role in blood pressure regulation. The risk for high blood pressure goes up after menopause, which is when progesterone is typically low. Researchers are now looking into whether progesterone may help reduce blood pressure risks, with promising results.
Some studies suggest progesterone replacement therapy may help your body regulate blood pressure.
Blood pressure is an important marker of health. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can put you at risk for many different health issues. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and even kidney disease. High blood pressure can damage arteries, blood vessels, and organs over time. Despite all these health risks, high blood pressure often causes zero symptoms on its own. Because of the many negative effects of high blood pressure, experts are exploring many ways to help people reduce their risk for hypertension.
How Progesterone Replacement Therapy Affects Blood Pressure
In the past, many believed that both the female hormones estrogen and progesterone increased blood pressure. This was because many women taking hormone-based birth control and hormone replacement therapy for menopause experienced high blood pressure as a side effect. However, recent research shows that estrogen is the likely culprit for increased blood pressure. Progesterone, by contrast, may have the opposite effect. As a natural diuretic, progesterone may actually lower blood pressure for some women.
Progesterone replacement therapy is often paired with estrogen to treat menopause symptoms. Every patient who still has a uterus is prescribed progesterone alongside estrogen. This is because progesterone helps prevent the uterine lining from becoming too thick, increasing the risk for endometrial cancer. Therefore, in the past many researchers had difficulty separating the effects of progesterone and estrogen for women taking both at the same time. However, progesterone replacement therapy on its own is getting more and more attention. For example, some studies have found progesterone-only therapy may help with menopausal hot flashes.
With more research into progesterone by itself, some have begun to look at the relationship between progesterone and blood pressure. Research is still ongoing, but many studies have found that progesterone replacement therapy either has no effect on blood pressure, or that it may help lower blood pressure. It’s important to discuss your specific circumstances with our treatment providers, but this is encouraging evidence for women who may want to take bioidentical hormone therapy with progesterone for menopause symptoms.
Progesterone May Lower Blood Pressure
Progesterone does many things in the body. It’s responsible for preparing the uterus for potential pregnancy, regulating your menstrual cycle, and keeping estrogen and other hormones in check. Progesterone also seems to help with blood pressure regulation.
Many medical professionals are interested in the relationship between progesterone and blood pressure. After all, blood pressure tends to be quite low during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are high. By contrast, post-menopausal women have a higher risk for high blood pressure, which is when the ovaries start producing significantly less progesterone. There have been several studies into the link between progesterone and blood pressure that indicate it may have a lowering effect on blood pressure.
One 2001 study found that progesterone was independently associated with vascular effects. This essentially means that, outside of estrogen, progesterone may affect the blood vessels. The researchers also found that progesterone changed the blood pressure response to norepinephrine, which typically increases blood pressure. This isn’t the only study to show a positive effect on high blood pressure from progesterone. A small study from 1985 looked at people with hypertension taking progesterone replacement therapy. Researchers looked at six men and four post-menopausal women and saw that blood pressure dropped significantly after taking progesterone. Therefore, these studies suggest progesterone may reduce the risk for hypertension.
How Progesterone Replacement Therapy May Lower Blood Pressure
The hormone progesterone can act as a natural diuretic, which is essentially something that helps your body get rid of extra salt and water through your urine. Diuretics like water pills are also a common treatment option for high blood pressure. This is because they can help reduce the amount of water in your blood, which means there’s less fluid in your veins causing excess pressure. Because of this effect of progesterone in your body, some believe that progesterone replacement therapy may also help lower blood pressure for women with low progesterone.
However, there may be other explanations. For instance, a 2021 study published in the journal Hypertension found that progesterone had three effects that may help reduce blood pressure. This study looked at short-term effects of progesterone on blood pressure. They concluded that progesterone may have a direct impact on blood vessels in the body.
The researchers found that progesterone dilated blood vessels, which can reduce the amount of pressure on the vessel walls. The study also found that progesterone helped prevent an increase in blood pressure that usually comes with exposure to adrenaline-like hormones. Another effect of progesterone the researchers in the 2021 study found was that progesterone helped block calcium intake in the smooth muscle cells. This may work similarly to calcium channel blocker medications, which are also commonly used to treat high blood pressure, as calcium can cause the blood vessels to squeeze tighter and increase blood pressure.
Of course, there may be other potential ways progesterone affects blood pressure. For instance, some believe progesterone may have an indirect effect on blood pressure through BMI. Progesterone replacement therapy may reduce the risk of weight gain and high BMI, which are associated with high blood pressure.
Why Providers May Prescribe Progesterone Replacement Therapy
Our treatment providers may recommend progesterone replacement therapy for a few different reasons. It’s common to use progesterone and estrogen in combination to alleviate menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. If you still have a uterus, our providers always prescribe progesterone with estrogen. Progesterone helps counteract the endometrial thickening properties of estrogen to reduce the risk of cancer. Therefore, if you’re taking estrogen for menopause, you will also likely be taking progesterone replacement therapy. In some cases, our medical professionals may also recommend progesterone alone to help with your menopause symptoms.
Progesterone may also serve as a hormone imbalance treatment if you’re suffering from low progesterone. If you have low progesterone levels, other hormones like estrogen and testosterone may be thrown out of balance. This can lead to many concerning symptoms, such as:
Frequent urinary tract infections
Frequent vaginal infections
Therefore, there may be many reasons why our providers may prescribe progesterone replacement therapy for you.
What to Do If You Have High Blood Pressure and Menopause Symptoms – Visit HerKare
Our providers at HerKare take a holistic approach to healthcare. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, high blood pressure, or other conditions, make an appointment at one of our clinics. We offer personalized treatment solutions to help you feel your best. Our team works with you to find treatment solutions that work for you. For instance, if you have both high blood pressure and menopause symptoms, we may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, bioidentical hormone therapy, blood pressure medications to address your whole health. Get in touch to learn how we can help you feel better again.