Talking to your doctor about HRT can often be a daunting and off-putting experience. Here, our menopause expert Eileen Durward offers some practical reassurance about opening up a dialogue with your doctor about HRT, and the benefits that can come from seeking medical advice.
Many women seek relief from the symptoms of menopause caused by the lowered levels of oestrogen in the body. HRT has been proven to be of benefit to women, but there are known risks and side effects of using this form of treatment.
However, the individual situation of each woman is different and this can make it difficult to determine whether HRT is appropriate for you. A doctor would be able to discuss with you the various benefits and risks involved in taking HRT to allow you to make an informed decision.
What is effective in one woman may not be for another. As HRT is a medicine available only on prescription, the decision on what type of HRT you should take will be made with your doctor’s recommendation and advice.
A doctor will be able to give you information on the different types of HRT and help you find the type most suited to you. As women face the different stages of menopause at different times, a doctor will be able to determine which type of HRT is most suited to your current need.
If you do not wish to take HRT, or feel that you are not suited to it, your doctor might be able to discuss alternative treatments with you.
There are many types of herbal alternatives to HRT which naturally relieve the symptoms of menopause. These include Sage extracts which are specific for hot flushes and sweats, as well as soy extracts which help provide support during the menopause.
For more information on these alternatives, follow the link to read about alternatives to HRT or visit your local health food store.
There are a number of areas a doctor will have to discuss with you before prescribing HRT because of the potential risks involved.
For example, a doctor is unlikely to prescribe HRT if you have a history of cancer, blood clots, strokes or heart disease. By discussing your individual history you will be able to decide if the health benefits of HRT outweigh the risks.
It is generally recommended that you take the lowest possible dose of HRT. As menopause develops, your need will change and it is important to see your doctor regularly to make sure that the treatment you are taking is appropriate and effective.
Your doctor will see you at least once a year to make sure that the dose you are taking is appropriate, re-assess your need for HRT and check that you are not developing side effects.
If you notice any changes to your body, such as lumps developing on your breasts, it is important to see your doctor immediately.
You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.