Advice & Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the menopause?
This is a time when women’s ovaries stop producing eggs and so they stop having periods. It is not an abrupt end but a gradual process — signified by the day the periods stop.
2. What is the peri-menopause?
This is the time leading up to a woman’s menopause and periods stopping. This can be when symptoms are at their worst due to fluctuating hormone levels.
3. What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
HRT is a method of replacing lost oestrogen to help reduce menopausal symptoms.
4. Types of HRT
(a) Synthetic — These are usually in the form of oral tablets.
(b) Body Identical — ‘Gold Standard’ HRT and is developed from plants but is pharmaceutically manufactured - these are regulated.
(c) Bio-Identical or compounded HRT — These are developed in special pharmacies and are unregulated - there is no research or evidence to show that they work.
5. Side effects of HRT
(a) Upon starting HRT, breasts may initially become more tender and engorged. This is due to the surge in oestrogen that the body is not used to and will settle after a couple of weeks.
(b) Low mood which is due to the progesterone part of the HRT and this should also settle after a couple of weeks.
(c) Bloating which can be due to the changing hormones levels and again will settle after a couple of weeks.
6. How long will it take for the HRT to work?
Each woman is different. However, typical results are as follows:
(a) Hot flushes and nights sweats generally improve after a week or two.
(b) Low mood and anxiety can take a bit longer - allow up to 8 weeks for these to go completely.
(c) Low libido can take up to 3 months to improve significantly.
7. HRT and Cancer
(a) Breast cancer. HRT is not advised after having breast cancer. However, there is new research coming through about alternatives - but if a woman has vaginal dryness there is generally no reason not to have local oestrogen for this, although it may need to be discussed with the breast surgeon/Oncologist first.
(b) Ovarian, Vulval and Cervical cancers need to be considered on an individual basis.
(c) Other cancers. There is usually no contra-indication to using HRT. In fact, HRT can be protective for patients with a family history of Colorectal cancer.
8. Family history of Breast Cancer
A family history of breast cancer is not always a reason not to take HRT. If any female member of the family has had breast cancer over the age of 50, a woman can still take HRT.
9. Weight gain on HRT
When a woman starts HRT she may initially experience weight gain due to water retention. However, this should settle and the weight should reduce back to previous levels.
If the weight continues to be a problem we can look at a different type of HRT.
10. Treatment options
The menopause and its treatments are very individual. Therefore, what works for one woman may not work for another, and that is why we work closely with you to get it right.
Sometimes HRT may need to be changed, as it is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms of the menopause and would like to learn more, please click below to make an appointment with one of our consultants.
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