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    Could Hormone Replacement Therapy Save Your Life?

    Could Hormone Replacement Therapy Save Your Life?

    Hormone replacement therapy is commonly prescribed to help with menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. However, it may also have other positive effects on your overall health and quality of life.

    Group of happy women using hormone replacement therapy

    Hormone replacement therapy may help protect you against many serious health issues.

    In fact, there’s a lot of evidence out there that suggests it may help protect you from many serious health conditions, including top causes of death among women in the U.S. This begs the question, could hormone replacement therapy (HRT) actually save your life?

    Of course, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of HRT for you personally with one of our providers. However, a lot of studies do show positive effects of taking hormones around the time of menopause. In this article, we’ll explore some of the research behind hormone therapy’s potentially life-saving outcomes for menopausal women.

    Hormone Replacement Therapy After Menopause Lowers Risk of Death for All Causes

    Several studies have looked at the association between hormone therapy and all-cause mortality, which is death by any cause. One 2018 study analyzed results from the Women’s Health Initiative, which was a large menopausal hormone therapy trial conducted in the U.S.

    The researchers in the 2018 study looked for risks for all-cause mortality in an 18 year follow up of the women in the study. The researchers looked at one group who used hormone replacement therapy and another that didn’t.

    In the study, the researchers found that menopausal HRT was not associated with a higher risk for mortality of any cause, including cardiovascular- or cancer-related death. In addition, the data showed that women taking hormones had fewer deaths from COPD and dementia.

    One important distinguishing factor was that most of the women in the study used hormone replacement therapy for a relatively short amount of time and started taking hormones close to the time of menopause. The women the researchers studied took combination hormone therapy (estrogen plus progesterone) for about five years, while the estrogen-only group took hormones for about seven years.

    Current evidence shows that, for most women, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy outweigh the risks as long as they begin therapy within 10 years of menopause and younger than age 60.

    Hormone Therapy Can Help Reduce Risks For Top Causes of Death in Women

    Additionally, hormone replacement therapy can help reduce many risks from health conditions, including some of the top causes of death for American women.

    According to the CDC, the top killers of women include:

    1. Heart disease
    2. Cancer
    3. Chronic respiratory diseases
    4. Stroke
    5. Alzheimer’s
    6. Injuries
    7. Diabetes
    8. Flu & pneumonia
    9. Kidney Disease
    10. Sepsis

    Hormone replacement therapy may reduce risks of development and complication for many of these common causes of death in women. Let’s look at some of the evidence:

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce the Risk for Heart Disease – The #1 Killer of Women

    Currently, heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the U.S. What many women don’t know is that menopause may increase the risk for developing heart disease, likely due to lower estrogen levels in the body.

    Estrogen affects practically every tissue in the body, including in the cardiovascular system. Many doctors believe that estrogen plays a protective role for the cardiovascular system, which may explain why women on average develop heart disease much later than men.

    Hormone replacement therapy can have many positive effects for your heart health, including increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, and helping the blood vessels relax and reduce constriction. Therefore, taking estrogen during menopause may be beneficial for your heart health.

    Though, there is a drawback as well. Estrogen may also increase the risk for blood clots. Therefore, it’s important to talk about specific risk factors to your cardiovascular health with our providers to determine if estrogen replacement therapy Is right for you.

    Hormone Replacement Therapy May Preserve Lung Function As You Age

    Chronic respiratory diseases are another common cause of death in women. HRT may also help reduce the risk of these serious conditions.

    Lung function naturally declines as we get older. Our lungs essentially peak in our mid-twenties and then gradually decline over time. Women often see accelerated reduction in lung function after menopause, likely due to changing hormone levels.

    However, studies show that HRT may improve lung function decline over time. One study from 2017 did a 20-year follow up to look at lung function for women using hormone replacement therapy. They found that the women who used HRT had better lung function scores compared to women who didn’t use hormones. The researchers concluded this may be particularly important for women at risk for chronic respiratory issues.

    HRT May Reduce Risks for Neurodegenerative Diseases like Alzheimer’s

    Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s are all another risk to your health as you age. However, there is evidence that hormone therapy may be associated with lower rates of these diseases.

    For instance, one 2020 study found that taking estrogen replacement therapy reduced the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease compared to women who never used HRT in the study.

    In addition, other research has found that hormone therapy for menopause decreases the risk for several neurodegenerative conditions. In one study from 2021, researchers found that women who used HRT for six years or longer were 79% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 77% less likely to develop any neurological condition during the study follow up.

    Therefore, estrogen replacement therapy may help protect your brain as you age, which is essential, as conditions like Alzheimer’s are a common cause of death for women in the United States.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Lower Diabetes Risks

    Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that commonly causes early death. This is where you have chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious damage throughout your body, including to the nerves and blood vessels.

    Medical studies have also found that HRT during menopause may help improve diabetes outcomes. Estrogen may reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. It can also increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control for women with diabetes.

    There may be many reasons for these positive effects, including that estrogen can help reduce body fat and improve body fat distribution. However, it may also aid with insulin secretion from the pancreas and help your body use insulin more effectively on a cellular level.

    Hormone Therapy can Improve Kidney Function

    Kidney disease is another serious concern for women’s health. Your kidneys are responsible for removing toxins from the blood, turning them into urine so your body can get rid of them. Chronic kidney disease is another leading cause of death for women.

    Hormone replacement therapy may also protect kidney function after menopause. Research from 2015 found that women who used hormone therapy after menopause had better kidney function. Maintaining hormone levels through HRT may help reduce the development and progression of kidney disease for postmenopausal women.

    Therefore, this is another way that hormone therapy may help protect your health in your postmenopausal years.

    Health Care & Hormone Solutions for Women at HerKare

    Our providers at HerKare are here to help you maintain your health at every stage of life. We offer hormone replacement therapy solutions for menopause to alleviate your symptoms and your overall health.

    Our goal is to provide women with a space where they feel empowered to take charge of their health. That’s why we offer convenient, affordable health care for women. Contact us today to make an appointment at one of our clinic locations!

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks

    Estrogen replacement therapy is commonly prescribed to women to help alleviate menopause symptoms. Many studies also point to positive health effects for women taking hormone replacement therapy for menopause. For example, one finding in many studies is that estrogen replacement therapy may reduce risks for colorectal cancers, such as colon cancer.

    Women talking about how estrogen replacement therapy can help improve their health

    Estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    Currently, estrogen replacement therapy is only recommended to help fight common menopause symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. However, there may be several ancillary benefits to using estrogen replacement therapy as well. If you think you could benefit from hormone replacement therapy, talk to our providers about your health and symptoms.

    Why Use Estrogen Replacement Therapy After Menopause?

    Estrogen replacement therapy is one of the most common types of medications to help women suffering from menopause symptoms. It is currently one of the most effective treatments available for hot flashes, which are common among menopausal women. Estrogen replacement therapy may help with menopause symptoms like:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Low sex drive
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Women can experience these symptoms during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) or after menopause (after you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period). For many, these symptoms disrupt daily life and can cause a lot of stress. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, there are treatment solutions available.

    Low Estrogen Levels Can Cause Symptoms & Health Risks

    While there are many things that can cause similar symptoms, low estrogen is the most common reason behind menopause symptoms. During perimenopause, our ovaries begin to slow down as they transition into menopause. This can lead to wide fluctuations in hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone which are produced in the ovaries. These changes can lead to many of the symptoms associated with menopause.

    Once you reach menopause, the ovaries produce significantly less hormones than during pre-menopause. This leads to low estrogen and progesterone throughout the body. Low hormone levels are also associated with menopause symptoms, which can continue even for years into post-menopause.

    Low estrogen levels are not only responsible for many of your menopause symptoms, but they can also have negative effects on your health. For instance, menopause is associated with increased risk for many health conditions, like heart disease and osteoporosis. What many women don’t know is that low estrogen levels from menopause may also increase the risk for developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Risks for Colorectal Cancer

    Several studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy have reduced risks for colorectal cancer. Many researchers believe that female hormones like estrogen may provide some protection against colorectal cancer. There are several reasons for this. For example, pre-menopausal women are less likely to develop colon cancer than men of the same age. Also, the risk for colorectal cancer increases around the average age of menopause. Various studies provide evidence for this protective effect against colorectal cancers as well.

    Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

    Before we explain how estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk for colon cancer, let’s first discuss what increases your risk. Women have about a one in 25 chance of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. It’s also the second leading cancer-related death for people in the U.S. (lung cancer is the first).

    There are many potential risk factors for colon cancer. For instance, your lifestyle can increase your risk for colon cancer, such as living a sedentary lifestyle or having a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables. Age is also a common risk factor. Most people who develop colon cancer are age 50 or older. Hormone changes from menopause may also increase your risk for colorectal cancers.

    Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

    Many women who develop colon cancer don’t have any symptoms, which is why doctors typically recommend regular screenings based on your health and family history. However, here are some symptoms that may indicate colon cancer:

    • Changes in your bowel habits
    • Blood in the stool
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Feeling like your bowels don’t empty all the way
    • Abdominal pain that doesn’t get better
    • Unexplained weight loss

    Screenings for Colon Cancer

    Most people should start getting screenings around age 45. However, this depends on many things, like your health history, family health history, and other risk factors. Screenings can include stool tests, colonoscopies, or even CT colonoscopies. These can help with early detection of colon cancer and precancerous polyps so you can get treatment as soon as possible.

    Many Studies Show Lower Risk for Colon Cancer for Women Who Use Menopausal Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    Because of the potential link between low estrogen levels during menopause and colon cancer, many researchers have studied the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on colorectal cancer risk. While research is still ongoing, many studies have found positive results. Increasing estrogen levels in menopause may help decrease the risk for developing colon cancer and may have positive effects on outcomes for those who do develop colorectal cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce the Risk of Developing Colon Cancer

    Many studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy for menopause also have a lower risk for developing colon cancer. Some of the first results of this kind were seen in the Women’s Health Initiative study on hormone therapy from the 1990s, which looked at the long-term effects of using menopausal estrogen replacement therapy. The researchers in that study did find that the women who used hormone therapy had lower rates of colon cancer.

    Another 2017 study also found that estrogen may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The study followed women for almost five years ages 55 to 79. Some of the women never used hormone replacement therapy, some used it in the past, and some used it during the study. The researchers found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy during their lifetime had fewer instances of colorectal cancer. Therefore, estrogen may reduce the risk for women developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Improve Results After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

    In addition, some researchers have looked at the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on women who do develop colon cancer. For instance some studies have found that women with colon cancer have longer survival rates when their estrogen levels remain high during the pre-menopause stage, but become shorter after menopause when they experience low estrogen.

    Another study from 2017 found that women who had used estrogen replacement therapy had better outcomes after colorectal cancer diagnosis. The researchers looked at 1,109 women with colorectal cancer between 2007 and 2012. The women who used hormone therapy after their diagnosis had a 24% decrease in their risk for mortality from colorectal cancer and a 30% decrease for mortality of any kind. They also found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy before their diagnosis saw even lower risk for both colorectal cancer and all-cause mortality. Therefore, estrogen may also improve prognosis for colorectal cancer patients.

    Talk About Your Health Today at HerKare

    Our team at HerKare is here to help you bring your hormones back into balance. We understand how difficult menopause symptoms are and use bioidentical hormones to help treat your symptoms and help you feel like yourself again. We also help you address underlying health conditions to improve your overall health and well-being. Our treatment providers are dedicated to empowering you through quality, compassionate health care. We are a women’s health clinic operated by women for women. Contact us to make an appointment today to learn how we can help you improve your health and symptoms.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy vs. Phytoestrogens for Menopause

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy vs. Phytoestrogens for Menopause

    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.

    woman in kitchen surrounded by foods with phytoestrogens, may still need estrogen replacement therapy for menopause symptoms

    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!

    Why Progesterone Replacement Therapy is Prescribed with Estrogen

    Why Progesterone Replacement Therapy is Prescribed with Estrogen

    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?

    woman in water happy after using progesterone replacement therapy and estrogen for menopause symptoms

    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 Replacement 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 HRT

    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!

    Can HRT Help with Anxiety During Menopause?

    Can HRT Help with Anxiety During Menopause?

    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

    woman happy because she started HRT for her 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:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Insomnia
    • Low sex drive
    • Vaginal dryness

    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
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability
    • Excessive worrying
    • Restlessness
    • Panic attacks
      • Racing heart
      • Sweating
      • Chills
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Shaking
      • Tingly or numb hands
      • Chest pain
      • Dizziness
      • Nausea

    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 May Increase the Risk for Overactive Bladder

    Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Overactive Bladder

    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.

    woman doing yoga after treating overactive bladder from low estrogen

    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.

    Studies suggest decreasing estrogen levels in menopause may be to blame for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Estrogen is an important hormone in your body that is responsible for many different functions. You can find estrogen receptors throughout the body, including in the bladder. Therefore, changes in estrogen levels during and after menopause may lead to overactive bladder symptoms.

    What is Overactive Bladder?

    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.

    How Does Low Estrogen Lead to Overactive Bladder?

    The link between overactive bladder and estrogen is complex. Researchers are still studying the exact cause. However, there are several potential explanations that may shed light on estrogen’s effects on the bladder.

    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.