Once you’ve decided hormone replacement therapy is the best way to treat the symptoms of menopause or other hormone imbalances, it can be difficult to know which type of therapy is right for you. There are a wide range of hormone replacement products available, including pills, pellet therapy, skin patches, vaginal products and topical applications. Additionally you’ll have to determine whether you want to use bioidentical hormones or synthetic hormones. As you consider your options, here is more information on each of the hormone replacement methods available to you.
Oral medication is one of the most common forms of hormone replacement therapy, with pills typically taken once a day. They work to relieve symptoms of menopause and lower the risk of osteoporosis. Like any hormone therapy, there are some potential side effects, such as blood clots, painful and swollen breasts, vaginal discharge, headache and nausea. Pills can also cause fluctuation in hormone levels throughout the day, potentially leading to mood swings or varying energy levels.
Skin patches are usually worn on the lower stomach and gradually release hormones into the body. They are changed once or twice a week. Patches can be advantageous over pills because it doesn’t require taking medication every day. It also poses a lower risk of blood clots than oral estrogen does but carries similar other side effects.
Low-dose vaginal products
Vaginal hormone replacement treatments include suppositories, creams and rings inserted into the vaginal. These types of treatments are ideal for women dealing with vaginal menopause symptoms, such as dryness, burning, itching or painful intercourse. The dosing depends on the type of treatment used, with rings usually requiring replacement every few months and creams or tablets requiring daily or weekly dosage. These products typically help relieve vaginal menopause symptoms without exposing the entire body to hormones, but they aren’t recommended for dealing with non-vaginal menopause symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats.
Topical hormone replacement treatments typically include creams, gels and sprays. Similar to hormone patches, the hormone is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. They are usually applied once a day and can be safer than oral estrogen for people with liver problems since they are absorbed directly through the skin into the bloodstream. In addition to typical side effects of all hormone treatment, one downside of sprays, creams and gels is that they can wash off or rub off before fully absorbed.
Hormone pellet therapy offers a sustained and consistent way to treat hormone deficiencies, releasing small amounts of hormone throughout the day, seven days a week, for up to five months. Unlike pills or topical treatments, which can lead to roller coaster testosterone levels and fluctuations in mood and energy, hormone pellets provide a stable hormone increase. To determine the right hormone levels to use, the patient undergoes a comprehensive blood work analysis. The hormone pellets are then implanted under the skin to consistently release small doses of bioidentical estrogen and/or testosterone into the bloodstream. Hormone pellets are an easier option than regular pills or topical treatments, since they simply require an office visit for implantation and dissolve by the end of the treatment period.
As you consider which hormone replacement therapy option is right for you, talk to an experienced hormone replacement therapy provider today.