Your body constantly changes throughout your life. Some of these changes are as a result of lifestyle, others are part of the natural aging process, and many more are a combination of the two.
For women, one of the most significant changes is a decline in hormone levels, particularly estrogen. Commonly associated with the onset of menopause, falling estrogen levels can have an effect on physical and mental well being. Undertaking estrogen replacement therapy aids in reducing these effects, as well as aiding in preventing a host of other age-related health conditions.
What is estrogen?
Hormones such as estrogen (which is actually a combination of three hormones; estrone, estradiol, and estriol) play a vital role in the female body. In fact, it is now believed that estrogen performs around 400 functions, so it is no wonder that as the levels in the body fall, major changes begin to appear. Among these functions are everything from collagen production to protection from some cancers, and, of course, your sex drive. As your body decides it is past childbearing age and the ovaries slow down or stop altogether, production of estrogen also slows down. As active life spans increase with improved diets and exercise, women want to remain sexually active past what their biological clocks believe they need to be, the fall in estrogen has become a bigger issue.
The role of estrogen in menopause
The common perception of menopausal woman as a forgetful, emotionally unstable, sleep-deprived, sweating mess is, unfortunately, not far from the truth. Hot flushes, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety are just some of the effects of falling estrogen levels. Others include vaginal dryness and bladder problems. All of these symptoms dissipate over time and can be regulated, to some degree, by living a healthy lifestyle including physical activity.
Why consider estrogen replacement therapy?*
While these symptoms do pass, this doesn’t happen overnight, and, for some women, the time before this happens can be very hard. Estrogen replacement therapy alleviates the symptoms, allowing you to continue with your life and enjoy every moment to its fullest.
There are other, often hidden, side effects of menopause that are not so transient. As hormone levels drop, women become more at risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Beginning hormone replacement therapy early during the menopause gives greater protection against the onset of these conditions, and several studies have suggested that life-long use of estradiol supplements can provide further protection from these issues and even depression.
Possible side effects*
Estrogen replacement therapy has come a long way and therapies that are derived from natural estradiol are much less likely to result in side effects than its predecessor Premarin®. If the balance between estrogen and progesterone is not maintained, then some side effects can be experienced, including weight gain, water retention, and mood swings. This is why a medical opinion should always be sought before beginning any type of supplement therapy, and any changes should be reported to ensure proper dosing. As with any supplement, it is essential to note that estrogen replacement therapy works best alongside a healthy lifestyle.
If you are approaching menopause or are already experiencing symptoms, your first step is a simple blood test to check your hormone levels. Once you know what is happening, you can take the right course of action for you and your body.
For advice on any aspect of estrogen replacement therapy, see one of our doctors at our bioidentical hormones clinics today! We have clinics in Austin, College Station, Round Rock and San Antonio, Texas.