Hormone therapy (HT)
Hormone therapy remains an acceptable treatment option for certain women with menopause symptoms. HT may include low-dose estrogen/progestin, such as that found in certain types of birth control pills. We use your health risk profile to determine whether HT can work for you and how long it may be used.
Your health risk profile includes a careful examination of, among other things:
- Family history of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer
- Personal medical conditions, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, estrogen, and other hormone levels
- Use of tobacco products
Contrary to popular belief, estrogen plus progestin therapy should not be used to prevent heart disease. Consult your doctor about other methods of preventing heart disease. These include diet, exercise, and prescription drugs, such as statins or beta-blockers, to help lower blood lipid levels or blood pressure levels.
Estrogen effectively treats menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, and vaginal dryness. It can be taken in various forms, such as by:
- Estrogen gels
- Transdermal estrogen patches
- Vaginal creams
These forms are all effective methods for treating the symptoms of menopause. Evidence suggests that transdermal estrogen patches may have beneficial effects on blood lipids, cholesterol levels, and bone health.
Bioidentical hormones are synthesized to be identical in molecular structure to the hormones women produce. They are sometimes known as “natural hormones.” These may include over-the-counter hormones or formulations compounded by a pharmacy for an individual woman.
Many brand-name products contain bioidentical hormones. These commercially approved formulations have been tested and are subject to regulation.
Custom-compounded hormones are not tested for batch standardization, purity, safety, or efficacy. Nor are they usually covered by insurance prescription plans. Salivary or hair testing used to adjust custom-compounded hormones is not justified on any scientific basis.
Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of over-the-counter therapies or compounded drug therapies. Some herbs have been shown to offer some symptom relief, but can cause side-effects when used with certain prescription medications.
There is no evidence that bioidentical hormones are safer or work better than other hormones or commercial drugs. To be safe, we assume they carry at least the same risks as any other hormones.
Acupuncture and other alternative therapies
Studies have shown that acupuncture can help women manage menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Acupuncture and other complementary medicine therapies are available at our Center for Integrative Medicine.