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    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!

    Women’s Health Care: What to Know About Hepatitis C

    Women’s Health Care: What to Know About Hepatitis C

    May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, so talk to our women’s health care providers about preventing and treating hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a common form of hepatitis and there is currently no vaccine to prevent it. In this article, we’ll discuss what hepatitis C is and what women should know about this common but serious infection.

    Talk to Our Women’s Health Care Providers about Hepatitis C for Hepatitis Awareness Month

    woman smiling with two children after talking to our women's health care providers

    Talk to our women’s health care providers about hepatitis C and what you can do to protect yourself.

    One of the best ways to observe Hepatitis Awareness Month is to talk to our doctors about this disease. Ask our women’s health care professionals whether you should get tested for hepatitis C and how to prevent it. An estimated 40% of people with hepatitis C don’t know they have it and don’t know they should get tested. Knowing more about hepatitis can help you avoid infection, notice the signs of infection, and also seek early treatment if you think you may be infected. Make an appointment at one of our clinics and let’s talk about hepatitis and how to protect yourself.

    What is Hepatitis C?

    Hepatitis C, sometimes called hep C for short, is a type of viral infection from the hepatitis C virus. It primarily affects the liver, which is responsible for many things in your body, including removing toxins from the blood and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. The problem with hepatitis C is that it can cause damage to the liver over time.

    Hepatitis C infections can be acute or chronic. An acute infection is short-term and your body’s immune system may be able to fight it off. However, more than half of people experience a chronic infection after being exposed to hepatitis C virus. Chronic hepatitis C is a long-term infection that can lead to many serious complications including scarring on the liver (cirrhosis), liver failure, and liver cancer. Today, there are many treatments available that, if used early, can help reduce these risks to your liver.

    Symptoms of Hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C often causes no symptoms. For some, symptoms only appear decades after infection due to serious liver damage. However, there are some symptoms you can keep an eye out for that may indicate a hepatitis C infection. Symptoms of hepatitis C infection include:

    • Fatigue
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Lack of appetite
    • Jaundice (yellow eyes or skin)
    • Bruising or bleeding
    • Dark urine
    • Clay-colored stools

    If you notice these symptoms, talk to our women’s health care providers to identify underlying causes. It may help your doctor detect hepatitis C for early treatment.

    How Does Hep C Spread?

    How do you get hepatitis C? Hepatitis C typically spreads through infected blood. One of the most common reasons for hep C transmission is sharing needles from illicit drug use. However, there are many other ways you might contract hepatitis C. For instance, getting tattoos or piercings using unsanitary needles, working in healthcare where you may be exposed to infected blood, or even sharing personal care items that may be contaminated with small amounts of blood, like razors or nail clippers.

    Hepatitis C can also spread through sex, especially if there may be blood present, like if you’re having sex during your period or if you experience tearing that causes light bleeding. This can create the blood-to-blood contact that can lead to a hepatitis C infection.

    Less commonly, women can also spread hepatitis C to their babies during pregnancy and birth. Some estimate that the risk is about 6% per pregnancy for mothers with hep C. The good news is that it is typically treatable in babies when caught early.

    Who is at Risk for Hepatitis C?

    Anyone can contract hepatitis C. However, there are some people who are more at risk for hep C than others. For instance, about 75% of people with chronic hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965, with Baby Boomers having five times the risk of people born in other generations.

    Here are some other factors that may increase your risk for hepatitis C:

    • Illegal drug use, particularly drugs you inject
    • People who work with blood and needles (like healthcare workers and tattoo artists)
    • Receiving an organ transplant or a blood transfusion before July 1992
    • Receiving clotting factor concentrates before 1997
    • People receiving dialysis

    If you have certain risk factors, our women’s health care providers may recommend testing for hepatitis C at least once, if not regularly. Our doctors can discuss your individual health circumstances with you to help you determine which screenings are right for you.

    Information Our Women’s Health Care Providers Want You to Know About Hepatitis C

    There are many things to know about hepatitis C. One of the best resources for information about hep C is your women’s health care provider at HerKare. However, we have some general information that we think is important for you to know for Hepatitis Awareness Month:

    Your Risk for Serious Hep C Complications Increases after Menopause

    One thing many people don’t realize about hepatitis C is that menopause can affect the infection. Estrogen may play a role in reducing how quickly the virus replicates, which can help protect you from liver damage and other issues associated with a chronic hep C infection. However, when estrogen levels drop during menopause, this can lead to a quick worsening of your condition. Hepatitis C typically progresses slower in pre-menopausal women than men, but once you reach menopause, you can see a rapid progression in symptoms and liver damage. So, consider scheduling a hep C test before you reach menopause. This way, you can seek treatment before your natural estrogen levels decrease.

    Hepatitis C Can Affect Hormonal Birth Control

    If you haven’t reached menopause yet, you might use hormonal birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy. However, if you have hepatitis C, it may make your birth control less effective and increase the risk for failure. This is because the liver is responsible for breaking down hormonal birth control so your body can use it to prevent unwanted pregnancy. If you think you have hepatitis C, talk to our women’s health care providers about your birth control options.

    Hepatitis C is Treatable

    The good news is that hepatitis C is treatable. Treatment may look different for everyone, but it typically includes antiviral medications for 8 to 12 weeks. These medications can help stop the virus from multiplying and spreading to other cells in your liver. For many patients, these medications can actually make it so the virus isn’t detectable in their blood. Patients that reach this phase are considered cured from hepatitis C. Even for those that don’t become cured, these treatments can reduce and suppress the virus.

    What Tests Can Our Women’s Health Care Providers Run to Detect Hepatitis C?

    Many women actually discover that they have hepatitis C after normal blood work during an annual checkup. The blood work may show high levels of liver enzymes, which typically point to inflammation in the liver. If your doctor suspects this may be due to hepatitis C, they may recommend a hepatitis c virus antibody test to see if there are antibodies to the virus in your blood.

    Current recommendations are that all adults should be tested at least once in their lifetime. Experts also recommend pregnant women and people with higher risk factors should also be tested for hepatitis c. Talk to our women’s health care providers about your health and whether you need to get tested for hep C.

    Find Quality, Compassionate Women’s Health Care at HerKare Clinics

    For quality health care and a team that listens to you, visit one of our convenient HerKare locations. We are a women’s health clinic run by women for women to provide you with the health care services you need to feel your best. From preventative checkups to finding underlying causes of your symptoms, we are here to help you. Our providers offer quality care to help empower women regarding their health. Make an appointment today to experience the HerKare difference.

    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!

    Do Menopause Symptoms Ever Go Away?

    Do Menopause Symptoms Ever Go Away?

    Menopause is a natural phase of life for women. However, it can come with many changes, including unwanted symptoms that affect daily life. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, it’s important to understand that there are many ways our women’s health care  providers can help, from providing treatments and suggesting lifestyle changes. Our team is also here to answer all your questions, so you are prepared and empowered over your own health. One common question you may have is whether menopause symptoms ever go away. The simple answer is yes. However, keep in mind that menopause is anything but simple. We’ll discuss how long menopause symptoms last, what factors affect symptom duration, and other complexities of menopause in this article.

    women talking at table after discussing menopause symptoms with our women's health care providers

    Talk to our women’s health care providers about what to expect from menopause.

    Ask Your Women’s Health Care About What to Expect During Menopause

    One of your best resources during menopause is your women’s health care provider. Our team can answer your questions and help you understand what to expect during menopause. Every woman is different, but there are some common experiences many women have during menopause that we can discuss and strategize for based on your individual circumstances.

    Understanding the Phases of Menopause

    It’s important for women to understand the different phases of menopause. While many people use the term “menopause” as a catch all for symptoms and health conditions related to low hormone levels as we reach middle age, there are actually three distinct phases in the transition from pre-menopause to post-menopause. They are:

    • Perimenopause
    • Menopause
    • Postmenopause

    Perimenopause is the period leading up to your last period. During this time, hormones like estrogen and progesterone start to decline and fluctuate. With these changing hormone levels, you may experience several symptoms associated with menopause. You may also experience irregular periods because of changing hormone levels. This is the transition into menopause. On average, perimenopause starts at age 47 and lasts approximately 4 years before reaching the next phase. However, every woman is different, and some may have longer or shorter timelines for perimenopause. You can also start perimenopause earlier or later.

    Menopause is the next phase in the transition. This is actually a point in time, rather than a time span like perimenopause. Menopause is when you reach the 12-month mark from your last period. Immediately after reaching this part of the phase, you are considered postmenopausal.

    Postmenopause is the time that comes after you haven’t had a period for 12 months and lasts the rest of your life. During early postmenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels may keep declining and some women continue to experience symptoms during postmenopause. However, typically symptoms do typically go away at some point during postmenopause.

    Common Menopause Symptoms

    Low estrogen and progesterone levels during the menopause transition can cause many different symptoms. In fact, an estimated 80% of women experience some menopause symptoms. Common symptoms you may experience include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes like anxiety and depression
    • Insomnia
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Brain fog
    • Weight gain

    Many women will see symptoms during perimenopause in the three to five years or so before reaching the menopause stage. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, sometimes even interfering with day-to-day life. Each person is different, so you may experience different symptoms or different levels of severity compared to others. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause, talk to our women’s health care providers about options for relief.

    How Our Women’s Health Care Providers Help with Menopause Symptoms

    The good news is, you don’t have to suffer with your menopause symptoms. There are many ways our women’s health care team can help you address your symptoms. For some women, simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in alleviating menopause symptoms. For example, eating a healthy diet, taking part in exercise, and reducing stress levels can all help with your symptoms.

    However, in many cases you may need menopause treatment with hormones to relieve your symptoms. As symptoms are typically due to low and imbalanced hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment option that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. We generally recommend taking the lowest dose of estrogen (and progesterone if you still have your uterus) that helps your symptoms. Our providers can help you determine if this treatment solution is right for you.

    How Long Do Menopause Symptoms Last?

    If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, you might wonder if they ever go away. The good news is, menopause symptoms do typically fade away with time. While there is no straightforward answer for how long menopause symptoms last, there are studies that show the average duration to expect.

    In the past, many women’s health care providers believed that symptoms like hot flashes usually disappeared within six to 24 months. However, more recent research suggests that the timeline for menopause symptoms is longer than this. One study from 2015 looked at how long vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) lasted for menopausal women. The researchers found that the average duration of hot flashes and night sweats was 7.4 years, with 4.5 of those years occurring during postmenopause after the last period. However, it’s important to note that some women have symptoms for a shorter amount of time and others a longer amount of time. For instance, some of the women in the 13 year follow up still had symptoms.

    The researchers in the study recommended that doctors advise women to expect symptoms for about 7 years because that was the average amount of time for the women in the study. However, there are health and lifestyle factors that may affect how long you experience menopause symptoms.

    Factors That Affect the Length of Menopause Symptoms

    The 2015 study also found that certain factors were associated with longer timelines for menopause symptoms. For instance, they found that women whose symptoms started earlier, such as when they were premenopausal, tended to experience hot flashes for longer, with an average time of 11.8 years total and 9.4 years after their last period. By contrast, women who only experienced symptoms after their last period tended to only have them for an average of three and a half years. They also found that African American women tended to experience symptoms longer than white women.

    Some other factors that seemed to be linked to having menopause symptoms for longer included being overweight, smoking, having high stress levels, and having anxiety or depressive symptoms.

    Each woman has her own “schedule” for menopause and its symptoms. However, genetics also seems to play a role. Specifically, typically your menopause transition will look similar to your mother’s and grandmother’s for age and timeline. Therefore, there are many things that can affect how long you experience menopause symptoms. Our women’s health care providers can help you look at many different factors and make a plan for how to manage your symptoms now and in the future.

    Discuss Strategies for Managing Menopause With Our Women’s Health Care Providers

    Considering that menopause symptoms can last years, it’s helpful to discuss your symptoms with our health care providers. As we mentioned, there are many options for relieving your symptoms. Our team can create personalized treatment solutions based on your specific needs. We are your partners in improving your overall health and wellbeing, during every phase of life.

    Quality Women’s Health Care for Menopause at HerKare

    As a women’s health clinic owned and operated by women, we are here to empower you to live a healthier life. Our team at HerKare is here to help you create a roadmap for lifelong health. We offer a variety of women’s health care services, from birth control counseling to menopause treatments to help you feel your best at any age. Make an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and get quality, individualized care from our health care providers.

    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!

    Women’s Health Clinic: Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    Women’s Health Clinic: Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    If you have symptoms of an ovarian cyst after you reach menopause, you should schedule an appointment at our women’s health clinic. While these are often harmless, they can cause serious symptoms, complications, and may even point to cancer. In this article, we’re going to discuss ovarian cysts after menopause and some things you need to know to stay healthy.

    menopausal woman smiling after visiting her women's health clinic

    Your women’s health clinic can help you address your health if you have ovarian cysts after menopause.

    Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. About 7% of women will experience an ovarian cyst in their lifetime. They come in many different forms. They are more common before menopause when the ovaries are more active. There are a couple of different functional ovarian cysts associated with the menstrual cycle for pre-menopausal women that often go away on their own and don’t cause any symptoms.

    However, after menopause, it’s less likely that you will experience ovarian cysts, and frequently these are different from the functional cysts you may have experienced in your pre-menopausal years. This is because the ovaries stop releasing eggs and produce less estrogen and progesterone, meaning they’re less active after menopause. Therefore, if you think you might have an ovarian cyst after menopause, it’s important to discuss it with one of our treatment providers.

    Seek Care from Our Women’s Health Clinic for Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

    While ovarian cysts are less common after menopause, they can still develop as long as you have your ovaries. Ovarian cysts can cause many different symptoms, including:

    • Dull ache in the lower back or pelvis
    • Aches in the thighs
    • Feeling pressure in the lower abdomen or pelvis
    • Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
    • Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
    • Pain during sex
    • Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
    • Unexplained weight gain

    If you’re experiencing these common symptoms of ovarian cysts, it’s important to make an appointment with our women’s health care providers for diagnosis and treatment.

    In some cases, ovarian cysts can cause complications. For instance, they can increase the risk of ovarian torsion, which is where the ovary begins to twist and may cut off blood flow to the area. Ovarian cysts can also rupture, which can cause dangerous internal bleeding. Some symptoms you need immediate medical care for an ovarian cyst include:

    • Severe, sudden pain
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting

    Ovarian Cysts After Menopause: Important Information to Know

    If you’re a post-menopausal women, there are several things you should know about ovarian cysts after menopause. Of course, everyone is different, so it’s important to talk to the providers at our women’s health clinic about your specific circumstances. However, we have some general information to help you if you think you may have an ovarian cyst after menopause.

    Ovarian Cysts After Menopause May Increase Your Risk for Ovarian Cancer

    One important reason to seek treatment from our women’s health care providers if you suspect you have an ovarian cyst is that cysts are more likely to be cancerous if you experience them after menopause. While most ovarian cysts after menopause are benign, there is a higher risk for ovarian cancer as we age. Therefore, we recommend getting care if you think you might have an ovarian cyst. While a suspected ovarian cyst is no reason to panic, it is something you should take seriously and visit our women’s health clinic to help rule out malignant cysts.

    How Your Women’s Health Clinic Diagnoses Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    If you think you have an ovarian cyst and you’ve already gone through menopause, there are several ways our providers may diagnose you. Understanding what to expect can help you feel more prepared and at ease before and during your appointment.

    Our women’s health care professionals may conduct a pelvic exam to look for signs of the cyst. Often, the doctor can feel the cyst during an exam, and it also allows them to examine the vagina, cervix, and uterus for signs of other causes of your symptoms.

    Another way your provider may diagnose an ovarian cyst is with imaging. This is frequently through ultrasound to look at the ovaries for signs of cysts.

    Our team may also recommend a blood test to look for higher levels of cancer antigen 125 (CA125), which could be a sign of ovarian cancer. However, keep in mind other conditions can also raise CA125, like pelvic infections, fibroids, and endometriosis.

    How Our Women’s Health Clinic Providers May Treat Ovarian Cysts

    After diagnosis, we can discuss different treatment options based on our findings. In many cases, we may recommend monitoring the cyst for changes. If the cyst is small and benign, we may not need to remove it or do anything further. These cysts often go away on their own. However, our women’s health clinic may recommend regular monitoring to see if the cyst changes in size or appearance.

    For larger cysts, cysts that cause you symptoms, or cysts that may be cancerous, our team may recommend surgically removing them. There are several approaches to this. One is to simply remove the cyst from the ovary. Another option is an oophorectomy, where the surgeon removes the affected ovary. In some cases, you may also need a hysterectomy.

    Conditions that May Increase Your Risk for Ovarian Cysts

    Ovarian cysts can happen to anyone. However, there are some things that can increase the risk of developing an ovarian cyst that you should be aware of. These include:

    • History of ovarian cysts (if you have had one before, you’re more likely to get another)
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Severe pelvic infections
    • Endometriosis
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Hypothyroidism

    If you experience these conditions, talk to our women’s health care providers about your risks for ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer, as well as what to do if you think you have an ovarian cyst.

    Types of Ovarian Cysts You May Experience After Menopause

    There are several types of ovarian cysts you can develop. We mentioned functional cysts in an earlier section, which are associated with your menstrual cycle before menopause. After menopause, ovarian cysts typically fall into one of three categories:

    • Dermoid Ovarian Cysts: Dermoid ovarian cysts are a sac of tissue on the ovaries. They often appear during your reproductive years but may get larger over time. These cysts are rarely cancerous and are usually made up of other types of cells, such as skin, teeth, or hair cells.
    • Cystadenoma Ovarian Cysts: These cysts are generally on the surface of the ovary and are filled with water-like fluid or mucus. They are typically benign but can be malignant.
    • Endometriomas Ovarian Cysts: Endometriomas are cysts caused by a growth of endometrial (uterine lining) cells on the ovaries. These are most common for women with endometriosis, which is a condition where endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Like other cysts, they can be cancerous but are generally benign.

    Convenient Health Care from Our Women’s Health Clinic

    Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of an ovarian cyst or want to discuss options for maintaining a healthy lifestyle after menopause, our professionals at HerKare are here to help. We are a women’s health clinic managed by women for women to help you address and improve your overall wellbeing. Our team offers quality, compassionate health care at every stage of life, pre-menopause to post-menopause. Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics today!