As you approach menopause – that time of the life when menstrual periods begin to slow down, and then stop – you may begin thinking about treatment options. There are quite a few different options out there for women of all types. You may be the type of person that prefers alternative medicines or you may prefer to use the advice of a doctor.
What is HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy , or HRT, is the act of using medication or herbs to replace the estrogen that is lost when the ovaries stop producing the hormone. This hormone is very important in a woman’s body as it regulates a number of functions. Estrogen is also important for bone strength. The hormone allows bones to absorb calcium better and allows other cells to use calcium without ‘stealing’ it from the bones, weakening them.
Many hormone replacement therapies prescribed by doctors are chemicals brewed in a lab. This isn’t inherently bad, as estrogen that is made in a lab still helps the body avoid bone loss and relieves other symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is often referred to as HRT in most informational pamphlets or articles.
Bio-identical versus plant-based
Bio-identical HRT is another option for people that are not comfortable with synthetics. This estrogen is isolated from donors and is matched on a biological and genetic level to your own. It is often very well tolerated with less side effects (so is claimed) when compared to traditional treatments.
Plant based HRT is used by some people and is available without a prescription. Plant based estrogens are found in red clover, soy, and other plants. These plant based hormonal treatments are often found in teas or creams. You can find such teas, creams, and supplements in the vitamin aisle at your local grocer or discount store.
Only you and your doctor can decide if hormone therapy is for you. Some people will have side effects and others may tolerate the treatments well. Much research has been done on HRT that point to longer lifespan and greater bone density for some women. Some research has pointed to a greater risk of stroke and heart disease while other studies have concluded the benefits outweigh the risk of long-term use. There is no way to know if your use will result in side effects unless you try one of the therapies. Side effects are usually mild and go away with further use or with stopping the treatment.