Throughout your life, your hormones are constantly changing and shifting. With menopause, many women will see yet another shift in their hormones. Hormones directly affect many aspects of the body, one of them being sexual function in multiple ways. With a drop in hormones, you may experience a loss of sexual interest that makes you unhappy. Luckily, there are treatments like HRT available in Brentwood, Tennessee.
What is HRT for women?
HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy. There are a few reasons why you might consider hormone replacement treatment.
Conditions that cause hormone imbalances in women:
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- POI (primary ovarian insufficiency)
- Ovarian cancer
- Insufficient Sleep
- Thyroid problems
- Extremely high stress
- Bilateral oophorectomy
What Hormones are in Hormone Replacement Therapy
Estrogen is the primary hormone used in hormone therapy for women. The estrogen is administered in multiple ways, so you will need to talk with Dr. Lett to decide which is the best type of HRT treatment for you. Hormones are available by pill, patch, topical skin cream, and inserted vaginally. The pill form is the most common way to treat menopause symptoms, and the vaginally inserted options treat vaginal dryness, itchiness, and pain during intercourse.
Combination therapy is another option that uses multiple hormone types in a variety of doses. Estrogen, progesterone, and progestin will be used in different amounts depending on the product and its intended use. Progesterone can help with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes specifically, for example.
What Does HRT Treat?
The body’s chemistry is delicate and hormonal imbalances are often the result of several health problems. When the hormones are out of balance, you may begin to experience one or many uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms are at best uncomfortable, but they can make life quite challenging as well.
Symptoms of hormone imbalances in women:
Hot Flashes: This is a sudden feeling of “hotness” in the body, often most intense in the face and neck. You may sweat, and your skin might get red.
Night Sweats: If you’ve ever woken up drenched in sweat, you’ve experienced a night sweat. This excess sweating can disrupt sleep leave your clothing and sheets wet.
Vaginal Discomfort: You may feel pain, burning, or soreness from sex. This is from the vagina having less lubrication and skin elasticity. The vagina becomes shorter and tighter at the opening from hormone drops.
Sexual Disfunction: If you are experiencing a persistent drop in sexual response or desire that is not normal for you, you may be experiencing sexual disfunction from a hormone imbalance.
Mood Swings: A hormone imbalance can cause anger, irritability, depression, and anxiety that affect your day to day.
Stress Incontinence: A drop in hormones can make your pelvic floor weak. This leads to urine leaks when coughing or laughing.
Bone Thinning: When hormones are out of sync, calcium loss may happen in bones. With age, there is less growth hormone, and you may experience weakened bones that easily break.
Hair Loss or Increased Hair Growth: When estrogen drops, you may experience hair loss as well. A testosterone imbalance could cause your head hair to thin and hair to appear in unwanted areas like your face.
Weight Gain: A hormone imbalance causes the thyroid not to regulate the metabolism properly. An underactive thyroid often causes weight gain.
Voice Deepening: If estrogen drops and testosterone increases out of check, the vocal cords can thicken, making a woman’s voice deepen.
Indigestion: Hormones influence how the gut functions by regulating bacteria populations. If these bacteria can grow unhindered, it may result in bloating, diarrhea, or nausea.
Clitoral enlargement: When hormones are not balanced, the clitoris may enlarge, taking on a more masculine form.
Side Effects of HRT
Hormone replacement can increase the likelihood of breast cancer in women. Combination HRT containing estrogen and progesterone can increase breast cancer risk by around 75%. This risk increases the most in the first two to three years of HRT but will return to average around two years after ending treatment.
Estrogen-only HRT can also increase the risk of breast cancer, but only if used for over ten years. This type of therapy comes with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, as well.
It is essential to talk with the doctor to make sure you are taking the correct type of hormone and in the right dose. Higher doses can increase cancer risks.
Surprisingly, this isn’t a proven side effect of HRT. When women enter menopause, they experience uncharted territories like redistribution of fat deposits, new fat in the breasts, abdomen and hips, reduction of bone density, and a reduction of muscle density.
Weight gain has been unfairly attributed to the hormone therapy itself when in actuality, it’s the body going through a natural phase of life.
Improving Your Sex Life with HRT
As hormones decline, they can have a massive effect on sexual interest and drive. Biologically, after menopause, women are no longer fertile and able to produce offspring. Naturally, this can affect libido and create a loss of interest in sex.
Low estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone are associated with low libido in women.
With hormone therapy, many women experience a considerable boost in sexual interest and drive. This treatment has a ramp-up period, so it may be around six months before it is fully effective. Balanced hormones can also result in a better overall mood, and this can heighten perceived libido.
If you are experiencing pain, HRT can solve vaginal atrophy issues. The skin that lines the wall of your vagina will thicken back up and become more elastic when hormones a reintroduced. You will also experience more lubrication, which helps stop the pain associated with pulling from intercourse. Hormone therapy for these problems is often a vaginal insert that administers hormones directly to the area. This method is a better alternative for breast cancer survivors who should not take estrogen.
Schedule a HRT Appointment
If you are experiencing a low sex drive or are having discomfort during sex, HRT may be the right solution for you. Please schedule an appointment at Cool Springs Gynecology and speak with Dr. Lett and his team in Brentwood, TN to learn about what options would fit your needs best.