Being a woman is not at all an easy task. There is no doubt about the fact that women are blessed with the power of endurance and adaptiveness hundred times more than that of men. The power and process of reproduction definitely makes women a lot more superior. Even if it seems from a distance that the pain and endurance is required only when she is carrying a baby or delivering one which is merely for nine or ten months, the truth is that the process and the changes that lead to this process begins right from her teenage years when she has her menstruation for the first time and continues right till her menopause. It is not at all easy for her to go through all that comes with it, right from menstrual cramps to post-partum depression and so much more! But she gradually becomes accustomed to this cycle which covers a major portion of her life right from her teenage years till her 40s. Menopause therefore, does bring a major change in her life, both physiologically, as well as psychologically.
Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT) for Vaginal Dryness
What is menopause?
Menopause is defined as the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian oocytes from aging. This process brings about with it several hormonal changes which affect a woman in more than one way. During menopause, the number of ovarian follicles declines and the ovaries become less responsive to the two other hormones involved in reproduction—Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As the ovaries age and release fewer hormones, FSH and LH can no longer perform their usual functions to regulate the levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These inevitable changes in these hormones and natural decline of estrogen levels during menopause can significantly affect a woman’s health for the years to come.
The change in the levels of these hormones can affect many parts of a woman’s body and vagina is definitely one very significant part which it affects. Low estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, irritation or discomfort. This lack of estrogen can cause vaginal atrophy—an inflammation of the vagina as a result of the thinning and shrinking of the tissues, along with a decrease in lubrication. Sometimes this thinning and dryness can lead to discomfort during sexual activity and make your vagina more vulnerable to infection. Therefore, Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT is sometimes used to restore these changes, to minimize the problems that crop up otherwise.
What is HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy is the most widely recommended and effective therapy to treat severe menopausal symptoms. It mainly refers to restoring the hormone levels after menopause in different ways thereby balancing the hormonal levels in a woman’s body. However, it does not treat all the changes associated with the normal aging process. Your own personal health profile, along with carefully weighing the benefits and risk of HRT, will help you make the decision that’s right for you.
Why is it required?
There is an abrupt change in the conjugal life after menopause, mostly owing to the physical changes that it brings along with it. These include problems in the vagina such as less elasticity, lubrication, tissue atrophy and reduced acidity. A lack of desire for sex might also be due to the variety of menopausal symptoms we experience—hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular bleeding, sleep problems and insomnia. However, dryness of the vagina is one major problem that does not only affect your sexual life but causes urogenital problems as well. Recently, a new term, Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) has been introduced for symptoms involving these organs.
How is it implemented?
Such problems can definitely be treated with Hormonal Replacement Therapy. Some ways in which it is done are as follows:
- Oral hormone therapy
- Estrogen patch
- Hormonal creams, gels and lubricants
- Vaginal estrogen therapy in ring or tablet form
There is no doubt about the fact that hormone replacement therapy has been successful in curing the problem of vaginal dryness in more cases than one. However, there are certain risks in implementing the hormonal replacement theory, about which one must know beforehand.
Balancing hormone levels can be complicated and taking HRT can further disrupt hormone levels and worsen existing symptoms or cause other ones in some cases. Some studies have linked prolonged use of HRT has been linked to an elevated risk of developing breast cancer and heart problems in post menopause. However, more detailed research into this is needed before we can make sweeping conclusions about side effects of HRT. These are mostly statistics and not scientifically proven facts. However, since it is better to be safe than sorry, one must know about all this before arriving to a sudden decision.
There are alternative methods to HRT which should generally be tried before arriving to an actual decision of implementing the hormonal replacement therapy. These alternatives include exercising regularly to bring back the body to normal, maintaining a strict and balanced diet for quite a few months unless the problems reduce, using herbs like black cohosh and evening primrose which are said to have hormonal replacing capacities and using vaginal creams and lubricants to get over vaginal dryness artificially. However, these processes often do not work or might reduce the dryness but cannot bring it back to the normal level, as before menopause. Under those circumstances, Hormonal Replacement theory is implemented, under the supervision of a doctor.
The most vital area that is to be noted here is that if you are a victim of this problems, please do not go for self-medication in any way. This is a serious problem that requires medical attention and there is nothing to be ashamed of it, as it is completely normal. Hence, feel free to consult a doctor and let him judge the seriousness of the situation. The doctor can then take the decision of implementing HRT if they feel it to be right!
Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!