In a woman’s body, different hormones play a vital role in their life. Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone help the body perform the routine functions. These hormones also have their importance in structuring the body and shaping the bone structure.
The major use of estrogen and progesterone is in a woman’s reproduction cycle. If we take a look at the functions of estrogen and progesterone, both of them have varying roles, but they function to help a woman produce eggs for reproduction, during pregnancy, and in menopause.
Estrogen: Estrogen prepares the ovaries of a woman to release eggs. It also helps in embryo formation and helps in conception.
Progesterone: Progesterone helps the woman’s body to prepare the womb for pregnancy. The endometrium is the inner layer of the womb, which has a very important role in reproduction, and progesterone protects this lining from every harmful factor.
We will take a detailed look at the importance of estrogen and progesterone throughout this context.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is a type of treatment in which different supplement hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are used to restore the normal levels of these hormones in the body. As a woman gets close to her menopause, the levels of these hormones start depleting in the body. The decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone have harmful effects on the body. To understand hormone replacement therapy, we have to understand the menopause first.
In a younger woman, ovaries keep producing an egg every four weeks. When a woman reaches a certain age, the ovaries stop producing eggs, and this is called menopause. Most commonly, women reach menopause after the age of 40 years. While some women may also develop menopause early in their life at the age of 30 years.
What happens during menopause?
Ovaries that produce estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, produce small levels of these hormones when women reach menopause. Estrogen and progesterone control the normal menstrual cycle. When they are released in quantity less than usual, the menstrual cycle gets disturbed, and eggs are no longer produced.
The following are the stages of menopause if it happens normally.
Perimenopause: starts 8 or 10 years before menopause.
- Menopause: described as 12 consecutive months where no egg is produced.
- Postmenopause: after a year of no egg production, the rest of the life is post-menopause.
The depleted levels of estrogen and progesterone have the following outcomes during menopause.
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweating
- Hot flashes
- Irregularity in menstrual periods
- Mood swings
- Heart diseases
- Urinary problems etc.
Hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women
While some of the women go through their menopausal period without noticing a thing, others experience the worst symptoms listed above. The menopausal time may be very painful for them, and if not treated right, it will continue to hurt them for the rest of their menopausal period.
As it is indicated in the above section that the symptoms listed above only happen due to low levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, restoration of these levels is the only option.
In hormone replacement therapy, as the name indicates, supplements of these hormones are given. There are different types of dosage forms such as tablets, patches, creams, and vaginal rings that are used for hormone replacement therapy. While progesterone capsules are also present in the market with the brand name of Prometrium. Estrogen is given alone or in combination with progesterone to treat menopausal symptoms. When the normal levels of estrogen and progesterone are restored in the body, the symptoms stop happening or are mild.
Breakthrough bleeding, which is caused by low levels of estrogen, is described as excessive blood loss during menstrual periods can also be treated by HRT.
In addition to that, when on HRT, menstrual periods happen regularly.
Other uses of hormone replacement therapy are as follows.
- Prostate cancer
- Birth control
- Heart diseases
- Low testosterone levels