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Should I take Hormone Replacement?
The average age of menopause is 52 and symptoms are mostly caused by a decrease in estrogen. Women wonder if they should take hormone replacement or not. If a women chooses to take hormone replacement therapy and has a uterus she must take progesterone in addition to estrogen to prevent uterus cancer. Most women experience menopause as a process of decreased menses and increased symptoms but menopause is different for everyone.
There are risks and benefits of hormones. Hormones can help symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, mood and skin changes. Medical advantages of hormones are they can help prevent osteoporosis and colon cancer. Hormone replacement may increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots and stroke, especially if you smoke, or are overweight and inactive. So each women needs to discuss with her doctor what her personal risks are based on her history and family history before starting hormone replacement. There are man made hormones, bio-identical and natural phytoestrogens. Hormone replacement therapy can come in the form of pills, creams, vaginal rings and patches.
Phytoestrogens are plant estrogens and are currently being studied. While they can be considered natural they may not be safer than traditional hormone replacement for women with estrogen dependent uterus or breast cancers. They probable are lower in equivalent dose. Foods that are high in phytoestrogens include flax seed and bread , soy beans and milk, tofu, yogurt, sesame seeds, multigrain bread, hummus, garlic, bean and alpha sprouts, sunflower, olive oil, almonds, green beans, onion, and blueberries.
Besides phytoestrogens Black Cohosh and Ginkgo bilobo have been shown to be effective. The problem with over the counter supplements is there is a lack of standardization so it is hard for a consumer to know the exact dose, quantity and purity. Herbal remedies can have potential side effects especially in combinations. It is a good policy to try supplements one at a time and at small doses at first. This way you can tell what is working and what gives you a side effects.
Other medications that have been found to help relieve hot flashes are a class of antidepressant medications known as selective-serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs (Prozac, Paxil, Effexor). Sleep disturbances may be helped with sleep aids such as Ambien or Lunesta.
In conclusion, women must work with their doctor to access their personal risk and benefits of taking hormone replacement therapy, natural remedies or other medications.