What is a hormone imbalance?

In the 2 to 8 years prior to women hitting menopause, defined by 12 consecutive months of not having a period, they experience fluctuations in the female reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These swings, which can also be the result of a hysterectomy and certain conditions, such as hypothyroidism, often cause a multitude of unpleasant symptoms, from hot flashes to weight gain.

First-line treatment are lifestyle adjustments and natural remedies. However, if symptoms are severe and not alleviated by these measures, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended, and is nearly always effective in providing relief.

What is hormone replacement therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment used to replenish decreased hormones in the body, returning them to optimum levels. This is accomplished either by taking hormones orally or using a topical cream.

What are common symptoms of a hormone imbalance?

Symptoms are numerous and vary widely in severity, from mild to debilitating. Among the most common are:
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Diminished libido
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain (especially belly fat)
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or incontinence
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia
Once a woman actually reaches menopause, which on average occurs around age 51, symptoms caused by hormone fluctuations may or may not end. Everyone is different.

Who is a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy?

To determine whether a woman may benefit from hormone replacement therapy, our providers conduct a thorough evaluation, which includes a medical history, physical examination and laboratory testing (either blood, saliva or urine).

If the provider does recommend hormone replacement therapy, she will create an individualized plan. Hormone replacement therapy is not recommended for women who have been on hormone therapy for more than 10 years, who are smokers, or have had cancer, blood clots, or undiagnosed breast masses.

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