Most women go through menopause in their late 40s or their 50s. During this time, which is marked by reaching 12 months without a menstrual period occurring, women may encounter a plethora of side effects and noticeable changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, those going through menopause may experience hot flashes, chills, abrupt mood shifts, sleeplessness and weight gain.
While most of these symptoms will pass, others – especially the weight gain – can be disruptive and detrimental to a patient's health. Because those with menopause tend to be older, a change in weight can mark an imbalance in personal health, especially given menopause can slow down the body's metabolism process. Many treatments exist to combat this problem, which – if unchecked – can lead to more serious diseases. One such method is hormone therapy.
"Menopausal hormone therapy injects estrogen back into the body to reduce the effect of any symptoms."
Understanding how hormone therapy works
Menopause lowers levels of estrogen in the body. This compound, which is a hormone, can be replaced from an external source. Enter hormone therapy, a government-approved treatment method for women experiencing menopause and its symptoms.
Menopausal hormone therapy, as its name suggests, in this case injects estrogen back into the body, allowing the patient to experience menopause without any of its symptoms – or at least minimizing their impact. In theory, the process is straightforward, but many patients may wonder if it works.
A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that hormone therapy was indeed effective at fighting the weight gain that is commonly associated with menopause. The study involved 1,053 participants, who were women between the ages of 50 and 80. The test excluded any patients already taking medications that could modify estrogen levels.
Results found that fat mass and overall body mass index were reduced significantly in the group of women undergoing hormone therapy, suggesting that hormone therapy can be indeed beneficial.
Knowing the effects of the treatment
However, once the hormone therapy had ceased, many of its patients reported that some of the symptoms returned. Menopause can be a long process, and patients considering hormone therapy should consult their primary care physicians to ensure they are getting the right treatment. According to The North American Menopause Society, the ideal hormone treatment is brief and uses only the necessary amount of estrogen.
In addition, increasing hormone levels alone will not fight all weight gain and is no substitute for a healthy, active lifestyle. Patients considering menopausal hormone therapy should also think about making an effort to adapt their lifestyles to help promote a healthy metabolism rate. While this treatment method is effective, it should not be viewed as a cure-all for the menopause process or the effects of aging.