We've all heard of menopause, but not everyone is aware of the changes your body goes through during the time leading up to it. This transitional period before menopause is known as perimenopause. Perimenopause isn't usually as severe as menopause, but you experience many of the same symptoms and problems.
While hormone therapy is one of the best ways to deal with menopause, there are also hormone therapy options for perimenopause. This can help ease the symptoms of full-blown menopause by adding estrogen to your system pre-emptively.
Why is hormone therapy during perimenopause important?
Perimenopause is usually a gradual transition that takes two to ten years. During that time, symptoms will get progressively more severe as you approach menopause. However, by starting hormone therapy during perimenopause, you can reduce the severity of menopause.
Symptoms of perimenopause
Perimenopause is a perfectly normal part of every woman's life. Because of how gradual the process is, there are plenty of warning signs and symptoms to let you know what's happening.
- You'll still have periods, but they become more erratic and irregular
- Some vaginal dryness and itching
- Mood changes, typically in the form of depression
- Inability to think clearly
- Physical symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, joint and muscle aches, and excessive urination
- You'll also have trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, and changes in sexual desires.
These are many of the same symptoms as with menopause. However, they will happen less frequently and be less severe.
Hormone therapy treatment options for perimenopause
Luckily, you can stay ahead of the curve and treat perimenopause which will have a domino effect and help with your future menopause. Hormone therapy is one of the top treatment options for perimenopause, and here's how it works.
There are several topical applications, including estrogen creams, sprays, gels, and patches, that can boost your estrogen levels. Estrogen is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream with these methods.
Pills are also a common way of getting estrogen into your system quickly and effectively.
Combination hormone therapy is where estrogen, as well as progestins, are added to your system as a way to level out your hormones. Most of your symptoms are caused by low estrogen levels, but progestins also play a significant role.
Vaginal estrogen is when estrogen is administered directly to the vagina in the form of a vaginal tablet, ring, or cream. This form of hormone therapy is used exclusively to relieve pain, itchiness, dryness, and discomfort in the vagina during perimenopause.
Risks of hormone therapy during perimenopause
Hormone therapy is a great way to help you get through perimenopause, but it's essential to understand that there are some risks involved.
- Higher risk for endometrial cancer
- Increased risk of strokes, blood clots, and high blood pressure
- You may experience gallbladder or gallstone problems
- Long-term hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer
While these risks may look harrowing, they're also rare. For the majority of women, the benefits of hormone therapy during perimenopause outweigh the risks by a long shot.