Hormone replacement therapy has been around for many years and is commonly used by women who are nearing menopause or have already gone through menopause. Menopause often leads to a decrease in the pregnancy hormones produced by the body. A lack of these hormones causes various side effects on the body. For example, some may experience hot flashes and sweating.
The effects of menopause on bones
The process that keeps our bones healthy is called remodeling, and our bodies need special bone cells to do the job.
Fun fact: Very few people know that our skeletal system renews itself every 10 years. This means that by the time you are in your 20s, you have your second set of bones, and 3rd if you are in your 30s.
So, to renew your skeleton, bones are constantly breaking off, being absorbed by the body, and new bones are being formed by special bone cells.
However, once you enter menopause, the balance is thrown out of bounds because the rate at which you break down your bones is faster than the rate at which new bones are formed. This acceleration is particularly high near menopause but decreases as you get older. Over time, this rapid bone loss develops into a disease called osteoporosis.
In simple terms, osteoporosis means that your bones are not as strong as they used to be and that your risk of fractures later in life increases.
Taking hormone replacement therapy into account
Hormone replacement therapy, just as the name suggests, is a medication that imitates the hormones you lose after menopause, namely oestrogen and progesterone.
Oestrogen helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and prevent osteoporosis.
On the other hand, progestogen is a man-made alternative to progesterone that helps protect the uterus.
Types of hormone therapy
Although there are a plethora of different types of HRT products, these are the three main forms of therapy:
Continuous combination therapy:
With this therapy, the patient must take oestrogen and progestogen every day, which means you will not have your period. But you need to be a year past your last period as this method can cause irregular bleeding.
Sequential combination therapy:
This therapy uses a combination of oestrogen and progestogen in a specific way:
Oestrogen – you need to take it every day
Progestogen – you need to take it for about 12 days every month
What makes this method special is that, unlike continuous combination therapy, you will have a menstrual period.
Just as it says no amount of progestogen is given to the patient in this therapy. Only oestrogen is prescribed and there is no period. However, there is a catch: you can only use this method if you have had surgery to remove your uterus
How does this treatment help with osteoporosis?
Hormone treatment helps to restore your oestrogen levels up, which ultimately helps to prevent rapid bone loss. This reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis and brittle bones.
And if you already have osteoporosis, hormone therapy can help strengthen your bones.
Side effects of hormone therapy
In most cases, patients do not experience any, but just like any medication, this one also comes with its own set of side effects. These side effects include:
- Leg cramps
- Breakthrough bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling sick
Most of the time, these side effects go away after a few months, but if you still have problems, you can ask your hormone doctor about them.
How can I get this treatment?
If you are one of those people who have gone through menopause prematurely, then this treatment is all the more important for you. This is because it means that you will start losing your bone density at an early stage which increases the risk of developing osteoporosis.
To get the treatment, you can consult hormone doctors to learn about your condition and discuss treatment with them. Treatment depends on various factors such as your age, bone density, etc. Therefore, it is important to talk to a professional before taking any medication.
Hormone replacement therapy can help you with osteoporosis but to make sure you hold on to the results of the treatment, you need to make positive changes in your lifestyle. Eating meals with high nutritional value, especially calcium and vitamin D, exercising, regular walking, and stretching can help you maintain healthy bone density.