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Understanding Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MRT)

By: Rebecca Prescott | Dec 7 2006 | 490 words | 1050 hits

In our grandmothers' time, the menopause was looked on as a natural part of life and women just had to put up with it. Some women sail through it and notice no symptoms at all and others suffer quite a lot. Nowadays, there is a lot of help available in the form of hormones, to deal with symptoms that you may experience during perimenopause and menopause.

What's Perimenopause?

This is the time prior to menopause (anything up to several years) when a woman's monthly cycle begins to become irregular. She may experience hot flashes, sweats at night, dryness of the vagina and feel emotionally labile.

The perimenopause is what women are really enduring when they say they are going through the menopause. The medical definition of menopause is when a woman has not had a period for a year. It usually occurs when a woman is in her late forties or early fifties. Women who have had their ovaries removed during surgery, for whatever reason, will go into a sudden menopause if hormone replacement is not offered.

At the beginning of perimenopause, some doctors prescribe birth control pills. These can help to regulate or stop heavy, frequently occurring, or unpredictable periods. They can also help with the unpleasant symptoms and will prevent pregnancy. Many women think that they won't conceive as their periods are now so erratic and then find themselves with a new baby!

What Is MHT?

Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) is the new name for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This is in the form of estrogen. If you still have a uterus, it will be combined with progesterone. Estrogen supplements alone can cause cancer of the uterus but the risk is virtually eliminated if a progestogen supplement is given with it.

MHT may help to prevent your bones thinning (osteoporosis) and help with menopause symptoms but they may return if you stop taking it.

Controversy surrounds MHT as there are risks involved. Some women may increase their risk of suffering blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer and disease of the gall bladder. If you are considering MHT, talk to your doctor who can help. It's recommended that hormones are given in the lowest dose that helps, and taken for the shortest time that they are needed.

Five Things You Should Know Aout MHT

  • It doesn't prevent heart attacks or strokes.
  • It doesn't prevent loss of memory or Alzheimer's disease.
  • It has not been shown to prevent aging, wrinkles or sadly, to increase sex drive.
  • Risks and benefits of hormone pills, patches, creams, gels and rings may all be the same.

Herbs and other natural products should be used with caution, although more open-minded doctors are happy for their patients to take them, and may even help with herbal choices. Research the latest studies to see if they may benefit you. If you are a breast cancer survivor and your tumor was estrogen positive, you mustn't take anything containing estrogen - and that includes plant estrogens. Take care and read the small print!

About author:
To learn more about hormone replacement therapy, click here. Rebecca runs this site covering natural and synthetic hormone treatments.
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