How Long Can You Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment that should not be taken on lightly. Fully understanding it and how it may affect your life is key before you begin on such a treatment plan. Hormone replacement therapy can be used for different reasons and amounts of time for different individuals. Such variation is why it’s so key to work closely with your healthcare professional in order to ensure that the treatment can work as well as possible for you without experiencing any adverse and unnecessary side effects.
So how long can you take hormone replacement therapy? We’ll explore that question below.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is the medical procedure of artificially increasing the amount of hormones in a person who is lacking a particular hormone.
Why may I need hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy can be required to help a person alleviate symptoms often seen with the menopause. Those symptoms can include but are not limited to mood swings, lack of libido, sweating at night, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
While these symptoms will often diminish on their own over time, they can have serious implications for a person while they are suffering from them. At best, they can simply make a person uncomfortable, while at other times they can be painful or embarrassing.
Additionally, some women will suffer osteoporosis, which is extremely common during and after the menopause. Osteoporosis is when a person’s bones weaken, which can affect quality of life. Using hormone replacement therapy can help reduce or stop this condition from worsening in the future.
How long can I take hormone replacement therapy for?
There is no real time limit on how long you can take hormone replacement therapy for. However, you should not use it indefinitely either. Work closely with your doctor to come to a decision as to when you should stop using the treatment. When they’ve decided that your hormone levels are adequate, they may advise you to lower your dosage or they may advise you to stop taking it all together.
Your doctor will consider a number of different factors before suggesting stopping the treatment. Doctors will mainly advise stopping the treatment slowly when your menopausal symptoms have alleviated slightly.
The reason that you should not take hormone replacement indefinitely is because those who take it are at more risk of breast cancer than those that don’t — particularly after one year’s usage. Again, balancing the risk of cancer versus the symptoms of menopause emphasizes why you must work so closely with your doctor when starting or stopping this treatment.
Disadvantages to hormone replacement therapy
There can be a number of risks associated with following a course of hormone replacement therapy treatment. You should talk them through at length with your doctor so that you fully understand them and the effects you could feel specifically. Some risks may not be something that will be particularly worrying for some individuals or even a big effect that they have to fear. Perhaps the most commonly known risk of hormone replacement therapy is the fact that it can increase breast cancer.
Additionally, some of the side effects include indigestion, headaches, or breast tenderness. These side effects will often lessen over time and often completely stop after a person has been on the treatment for three months or so.
Embarking on a course of hormone replacement therapy is a big decision to make and one that you should make while working with your doctor. They will be able to advise you as to the risks involved with reference to your own medical history. Additionally, they will be able to prescribe you a form of hormone replacement therapy that works best for you.
Many women will need a combination of oestrogen and progestogen, but in some cases individuals will only need to be prescribed oestrogen. Plus, how you take hormone replacement therapy is also something you need to decide with your doctor. Some can be taken as a tablet, while other forms will include a gel, a pessary, a vaginal cream, or even skin patches. You may not find the method that works for you immediately, which is why it’s key to keep communication up with your doctor until you find a method that does.