I often hear women say they think they can benefit from hormone therapies, but they’re afraid of the “side effects”.
For instance, I got a call the other day from a woman named Linda. Linda said she is about 45, she feels moody, tired, is having some “sexual issues,” and she just “hates the way she feels.” She has read some of my columns, and knows she could probably benefit from hormone therapy but she is afraid of possible consequences.
Linda is not alone. Despite many recent reports to the contrary, a lot of women still fear hormone therapies because of false reports saying it may increase their risk of heart disease and cancer.
Every woman’s body is different. And, while it is true that hormone therapy may not be right for every woman, the decision to undergo treatment or not, should never be made out of fear.
Instead, it should be made after thorough evaluation of your symptoms, accurate tests of your hormone levels, and frank discussions with your doctor about how your symptoms are negatively impacting your life.
As I explained to Linda, not considering your options out of fear, can lead to years of unpleasant symptoms that could continue to affect your personal and professional life.
Hormone Therapies and Relationships
One of the most common complaints of woman like Linda, is painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness. Hormone replacement therapy via the use of estrogen containing creams, patches or sub-dermal pellets is a very effective sexual wellness treatment form women. It’s proven to help increase lubrication in women.
Interestingly enough, women approaching menopause also have a decrease not only in estrogen, but in testosterone as well. Testosterone is usually thought of only as a male hormone, but it is also produced, and needed by women’s bodies.
Decreasing levels of testosterone in menopausal women can lead to lack of libido. Low testosterone is also related to some of the other typical symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, loss of energy, and “mental fog.”
For women experiencing these and other symptoms, hormone therapy that combines estrogen and testosterone is a very good option.
For a long time women like Linda feared hormone therapy, due to mostly false reports that HRT increased the risk of breast cancer or heart disease. Recently this link has been largely disproven, and HRT poses no additional cancer risk in most women.
Women should not suffer from a dissatisfied love life, or other symptoms of menopause due to a misunderstanding about the risks, vs the benefits of hormone therapy.
Hormone Therapies that Use Replacement Pellets
Now that you know the truth about the risks associated with hormone therapy, the next question often becomes, “how I should receive my HRT?”
The two most common forms of HRT for women suffering from painful intercourse (dyspareunia) and/or vaginal dryness come in the form of topical creams or gels, or as sub-dermal “pellets.”
Hormone replacement pellets are inserted in the fat layer under the skin near your hip. HRT pellets are designed to release their hormones slowly, in intervals. This is more like your body releases hormones. The pellet acts almost like an artificial gland, releasing its hormones over time, and speeding up or slowing down the release in response to external stimulus.
Beyond releasing hormones in a more natural and balanced way, in studies, women have said they like the pellets better than the hassles of messy creams and gels.
Another significant advantage of hormone replacement pellets over other delivery methods is they can be used to deliver combinations of different hormones.
Women who have used combination pellets that contain both estrogen and testosterone, report a renewed libido. I have had patient tell me their love life is the best ever since being on the pellets!
The pellets are very small, only a little bigger than a grain of rice. They are inserted using a very small and painless incision, which does not leave a noticeable scar.
Other Benefits of Hormone Therapy
In addition to the relief of sexual dysfunction issues, the combination testosterone and estrogen pellets relieve many of the other most debilitating symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. Beyond that, HRT pellets for women also have been shown to:
- Strengthen bones and increase bone density
- Reduce the foggy thinking typical of menopause, and otherwise improve cognition
- Increase energy and vitality
- Support the increase of lean muscle and reduce belly fat
- Reduce the occurrence of mood swings, depression and anxiety
Recent published studies have concluded that low dose HRT significantly improves the vaginal dryness and the overall quality of life of postmenopausal women.