At about 50, women stop secreting estrogen and progesterone. These menopausal hormone changes may cause weeks to months of hot flashes, night sweats and/or mood swings. The absence of these female hormones after menopause may lead to vaginal dryness, hair loss, skin coarsening, decrease in breast size and support, and bone thinning (osteoporosis).
Millions treat these symptoms with hormone replacement therapy, (HRT): e.g. Premarin, Provera, Prempro. Research suggested that HRT might also protect against heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's dementia, and colon cancer.
But earlier in July, the Women's Health Initiative of the National Institutes of Health reported that the hormones taken continuously in combination, (Prempro), did not decrease heart attack or stroke, and slightly increased breast cancer. The conclusions have been challenged by some experts, and the results do not address other approaches such as taking estrogen and progestin separately and sequentially. While some physicians have stopped using these hormones altogether, others have modified their doses, and some have made no changes.
What To Do:
If you are taking, or considering, HRT, you should contact your doctor.
If you choose not to take hormones, here are some alternatives.
- For Vaginal Dryness:
Estrogen cream applied directly. Estrogen rings (Estring) give continuous application. Vitamin E by mouth or in cream may be effective.
- For Osteoporosis:
Calcium taken with Vitamin D. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking. Bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax. "Synthetic estrogen" such as Evista.
- For Hot Flashes:
Plant estrogen and progesterone (soy products, wild yams, black cohosh).
- For Night Sweats:
Prescription medication such as Bellergal.
- For Mood Swings:
Meditation, exercise, relaxation techniques (if necessary, antidepressant Rx).
- For Heart Disease:
Low fat diet and exercise. If necessary, medication to lower cholesterol. Baby aspirin twice weekly.
- For Colon Cancer:
Increase dietary fiber. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- For Dry Skin:
Common skin creams and moisturizers.
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|Medical News: Female Hormones|