After menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often prescribed to resupply the body with the hormones it no longer produces. Discuss this with your doctor. As with any medication, there are risks and benefits, and each woman should decide if HRT is the right choice for her.
HRT typically consists of an estrogen/progestin supplement -- usually given orally or through a skin patch or gel. Estrogen is the component that treats hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and increased risk of heart disease...
About 6 months to a year before your
periods stop, your estrogen starts to drop. When it drops past a certain point,
your menstrual cycles stop. After a year of no menstrual periods, you are said
to have "reached menopause."
During the next year or so, estrogen levels keep going down. This lowers your risk for certain types of cancers (estrogen is linked to some types of cancerous cell growth). But low estrogen
also creates some health concerns, such as:
Bone loss. Low
estrogen levels after menopause speed bone loss, increasing your risk of
Skin changes. Low estrogen leads to low
collagen, which is a building block of skin and
connective tissue. It's normal to have thinner, dryer, wrinkled skin after
menopause. The vaginal lining and the lower urinary tract also thin and weaken.
This condition can make sexual activity difficult. It can also increase the risk of
vaginal and urinary tract infections.
Tooth and gum changes. Low estrogen
affects connective tissue, which increases your risk of tooth loss and possibly
Although the reasons aren't well understood,
a woman's risk of heart disease increases after menopause. Because heart
disease is the number one killer of women, consider your heart risk factors
when making lifestyle and treatment decisions.