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Hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms

“Menopause is defined as going for a year without having a menstrual period,” says Melissa Counihan, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “This is caused by hormonal changes in the body, which include a decrease in your estrogen and progesterone.”

When these hormones decrease, women may experience symptoms from perimenopause and menopause, including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep deprivation from hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness

There are two hormonal options for treating menopause symptoms:

  • Estrogen only
  • A combination of estrogen and progesterone

Customized hormone replacement treatment options

“Every woman experiences menopausal symptoms differently,” says Dr. Counihan. “Therefore, treatment has to be tailored to each woman – her individual medical and family history is all part of that.”

Once a woman begins hormone replacement therapy, it’s common for her doctor to change the dosage and/or medication to determine her optimal treatment.

Hormone replacement therapy can be delivered in a variety of ways, including:

  • Daily pill
  • Spray
  • Gel
  • Patch

“Lots of women are going through menopause and many of them will require some form of treatment to help with the symptoms,” she says.

Whatever the treatment, Dr. Counihan says she typically recommends the smallest dose for the shortest length of time but, “the bottom line is to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and let them help you figure out the best course of action.”

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