Reviewed by: Dr. Douglas Lord
Many women experience the unpleasant symptoms of hormonal changes around 40, even before the onset of menopause. Thankfully, there are many different types of hormone therapy for women.
Why so many?
The answer is that with such a variance in symptoms and severity, some approaches may prove more effective than others.
To help you find the right solution for you, we examine different types of hormone therapy for women, medications and natural supplements, while also taking a look at different cutting edge options in the world of hormone replacement therapy.
If you are a woman in need of hormone therapy for women, schedule a virtual doctor’s visit with one of our doctors. Our physicians provide virtual appointments to patients around the country and ship the treatments right to your door.
Types of Hormone Therapy For Women
Let’s jump right in and look at the main group of hormone replacement medications prescribed today:
- Birth control pills: For some women, oral contraception (OC) may provide the double-punch they’re looking for as a menopause treatment and preventative measure. While OC provides the obvious advantage of birth control, they’re also used to treat the symptoms of perimenopause – the hormonally unstable period before full-blown menopause. Using OC can help to reduce irregular menstrual bleeding, while also providing relief from the most common symptoms of perimenopause. However it should be noted that these are synthetic hormones and have recently been linked to an increase in breast cancer.
- Progestin pills: Progestins (synthetic forms of progesterone) are typically used to treat heavy or irregular periods. Progesterone works to counter the effects of estrogen by thinning the lining of the uterus. In doing so, progestins can reduce the risk of uterine cancer. Interestingly, progestins can also help to stop tumor growth throughout the body, and assist in becoming pregnant. Progestin pills are also synthetic hormones and may increase your risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
- Estrogen therapy: Orally ingested estrogen is the most common form of estrogen replacement therapy. It can serve as a menopause treatment while also reducing the risk of osteoporosis (weakening of the bones). On the downside, studies have shown that this form of estrogen replacement therapy treatment can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and other serious health conditions.
- Vaginal estrogen: Used vaginally, estrogen can provide relief from a small set of symptoms when compared to orally ingested estrogen. This form of estrogen replacement therapy is commonly used to treat vaginal dryness, itching, redness or pain in the absence of other menopausal symptoms.
- Bio-identical hormones: The term ‘bio-identical’ encompasses a variety of hormones and possible delivery methods. Unlike conventional synthetic hormones, bio-identical hormones are chemically identical to those found in the body, also sometimes called human hormones. As such, they are believed to provide a number of advantages over their synthetic counterparts. While we’ll discuss some of these later, you can also find more information in our earlier post.
- Testosterone: While typically considered exclusive to men, small amounts are also found in women. Despite the small quantity, testosterone is known to play an important role in sex-drive and physical arousal. If decreased sex-drive is a factor, testosterone therapy may be appropriate. This is particularly true if the ovaries have been removed. It has significant benefits such as decreasing brain fog and improving memory, as well as helping to protect against osteoporosis and muscle loss.
Natural Supplements For Women
While medicating is the most common form of hormone therapy, we shouldn’t forget that there are natural types of hormone replacement therapy for women that encourage normal hormone production. The following are a few key foods, habits and natural supplements to support the endocrine system and perhaps even serve as a menopause treatment:
- Coconut oil: While coconut oil demonstrates a myriad of health benefits, this long-chain fatty acid helps to form hormones at a fundamental level. Over time this can help to balance hormone levels.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps to reduce stress and improve sleep. Both of these benefits can have the spinoff effect of encouraging better hormone replacement for women.
- Limit caffeine: While a difficult indulgence for many to regulate, too much caffeine can certainly impact the entire endocrine system. Caffeine can mimic the effects of stress and impact the natural production of many hormones.
Pellets For Women
In our recent posts we’ve talked extensively about the risk of conventional replacement therapy for women, and the movement to more natural hormone supplements and treatments. Pellets are a specific form of delivery for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) that uses tiny pellets inserted just under the skin. The pellets slowly release natural forms of estrogen and/or testosterone into the body to balance hormones. The pellets are inserted during a straightforward procedure that takes two to three minutes and last three to four months in women.
While convenience alone is enough to convince some, there are actually a number of benefits to this type of natural hormone replacement therapy for women. One major plus is the slow release of the hormones. This prevents the rapid rise and fall of hormones that comes with conventional hormone replacement therapy for women. Perhaps most importantly however, hormone pellets allow each patient to receive a customized treatment to meet their individual needs. Ultimately, this translates to better menopause treatment. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?