"I Have Hot Flashes! Should I Take Hormones?"
By Rebecca Hulem, "The Menopause Expert"
Hormones, hormones, hormones. You can't live with them and you can't live without them . . . or can you?
These days you can't go near a women's magazine, a newspaper or the evening news without encountering yet another alarming discussion or editorial regarding hormone therapy prescribed to women to relieve the bothersome symptoms of menopause. If you are anything like my patients, friends, colleagues, and family members, you have probably reached a highly informed state of . . . confusion.
Should you start taking hormones or stop taking them? If you start them, how long should you stay on them? Should you take synthetic or compounded hormones? How does your doctor or health care practitioner decide which one to prescribe? And what's the difference, anyway? And when you finally decide what to take, how do you decide what form to take it in - - - a pill, a patch, a cream, a vaginal ring, or a lozenge? I s there a test you can take to figure it all out? And if there is, why hasn't someone offered it to you?
Who's driving this hormone bus anyway? Should I take Hormones?
So, how do you decide if you should take hormones? Symptoms are the first thing to consider. Ask yourself the following:
- Am I having Hot Flashes that I can't live with another minute?
- Are my Hot Flashes so frequent and intense that they impact the quality of my day-to-day life?
- Am I having sleepless nights?
- Have I tried life style changes such as dressing in layers, deep breathing, and avoiding hot flash triggers like not eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol and these changes have not helped?
If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, you may want to consider short-term hormone therapy. Symptoms, not the prevention of health conditions that you don't yet have, are the reason to consider hormones. Symptoms that you can't tolerate another minute that may include: fuzzy thinking, mood swings, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and weight gain.
Two suggestions when considering hormone therapy for the relief of hot flashes are:
- Discuss your individual health history and concerns regarding the risks and benefits of taking hormones with your health care provider before making a decision
- Take the lowest dose possible that relieves the hot flashes and other symptoms and limit hormone use to three to five years
Every woman is unique. It is important to have your health care provider inform you of your individual risks. The ultimate goal is to live a long and healthy life. Taking hormones to relieve hot flashes and other bothersome symptoms brought on by the menopause transition, is a viable, safe option for some women.
Rebecca is an international speaker and author. She has over 30 years of experience working in the field of Women's Health as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife and certified menopause clinician. Learn more About Rebecca