The Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Women

Over 55 million women in the United States are in menopause — 73% of these women report not receiving support or treatment for the negative effects. The average woman will spend 20-30 years of her life struggling with menopause symptoms without any relief. The symptoms, severity, and frequency vary depending on the person and can include everything from hot flashes to night sweats, heart palpitations, joint pain, mental fatigue, mood swings, irritability, and a decrease in sex drive.

a menopausal woman pulls her hair back to reveal a patch of thinning hair

Estrogen hormone replacement therapy is an effective way to treat menopause, so why don’t more women treat their symptoms with it? Here’s what you should know about hormone replacement therapy in women.

What is Estrogen?

Estrogen is a naturally occurring sex hormone that decreases with age. Estrogen also plays an important role in almost all cells and tissues in the human body for both men and women. Dr. Gordon C. Gunn says:

“Estrogen is a very important natural hormone. It’s a natural biochemical hormone that’s there for a purpose – all of your body cells react to it normally. There’s nothing foreign about it — it’s not like a drug that the body doesn’t know what to do with. Many of the cells in the body can survive without estrogen. Some of them can’t — like the vaginal and lower urogenital tissue. It turns out that the blood vessels are very estrogen-dependent because it affects the wall’s elasticity and the lining’s health. The brain is also hugely affected by estrogen levels.”

The Misconception of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy has a lot of misinformation surrounding it due to the outcome of a 2002 study that has since been disproven by the original doctors who conducted the study. Unfortunately, women still believe that hormone replacement therapy isn’t a viable option for helping treat menopause symptoms.

a doctor looks at the results of a mammogram to check for possibly breast cancer

The misinformation doesn’t stop there: many clinical practices only recommend hormone replacement therapy for 5-10 years. Dr. Gunn said there’s no evidence that long-term hormone replacement therapy stops being effective—or hurts the patient—after a specific amount of time. Further, the data suggests there’s no increased risk of breast cancer in women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Alternatively, many studies have found that hormone replacement therapy is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. 

Dr. Gunn says, “With over 20 years of estrogen therapy, we now know that we can pretty safely predict what’s going to be the outcome of the women on estrogen versus not on estrogen.”

Why Consider Hormone Therapy?

It’s simple: low estrogen levels will negatively impact your life. While short-term symptoms of low estrogen levels are typically reversible after starting hormone replacement therapy, long-term physical changes may occur when living with low estrogen for an extended period. Women should not suffering from low estrogen levels for years or even decades when there’s an effective way to treat the issue.

a woman experiencing a hot flash tries to use a handheld fan to cool down

“Don’t be blinded by myths. Don’t let that negatively influence you. At least be open enough to seek the truth — what is accurately known today and why it’s important for you. Not only your current sense of well-being but your long-term health.”

-Dr. Gordon Gunn