Hormone Replacement Therapy
As women age, their ovaries run out of eggs and cease producing estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that alter the uterus to prepare it for the implantation of a fertilized egg. These hormones have widespread other effects on the brain, blood vessels, liver and bone. The decrease of these hormone levels is responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause.
Primary among the symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, induced by pulses of regulatory hormones in the brain. These result in dilation of blood vessels in the skin, warmth and an increased heart rate and can last from a few seconds to many minutes. If occurring during sleep, as they commonly do, they can produce night sweats, disordered sleep cycles and fatigue.
Other symptoms are sleep disruption, loss of sexual urges (low libido), vulvar and vaginal dryness, depression (often due to sleep disruption), weight gain, memory loss, bone loss and elevated cholesterol levels. Thus most every body system is affected by the simple loss of ovarian function.
As these hormones are valuable to women’s health, many menopausal women choose to replace them. However, there is controversy over the best ways, if any, to do this. All the changes of menopause can be addressed without hormones. The best way to determine if and how to take menopausal therapy is to come in and discuss with Dr Howe your own personal situation and concerns.