Menopause - to HRT or not...that is the question

27 Oct 2010 2:37 PM - My advice - consider the alternatives first

There has been much written about the physiological changes which occur when a woman transitions through menopause.  Hot flushes, mood swings, insomnia, vaginal dryness, joint pain, poor concentration and more. 

The extent to which some or all of these problems occurs can vary from next to nothing to the other extreme with profound and debilitating effects. 

Many women would love to get some help for these problems but it can be very confusing to know what to do.  Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is often recommended and it will generally be effective for many.  However, there are some concerns surrounding side effects and increased risks, particularly of breast cancer.  The research is somewhat contentious and not equivocal.  Just as important though, like any drug, HRT may not be well tolerated or may not be suitable for some women.  This needs to be discussed with your GP.

If you are at all concerned, why not try herbal alternatives combined with diet and lifestyle changes first.  They have an excellent safety profile and can be very effective in supporting a woman through the menopause and beyond. 

A qualified naturopath, trained in herbal medicine, will be able to put together a combination of herbs to specifically correspond to your unique set of symptoms. They will be able to monitor progress and tailor treatment and dosage accordingly.  They can also address any dietary or lifestyle factors which may be exacerbating symptoms. 

Often, other factors will come in to play as well.  Many women reach this time in their life just as their jobs are the most demanding.  On top of that they often have elderly parents who perhaps need more care, teenage children (with all the stresses that can involve)  and generally have a lot on their plate which can exacerbate their menopausal symptoms.  A good naturopath will take all of this into consideration when developing a treatment plan. 

So, why not consider the alternatives first before trying HRT.  You may find it is sufficient to address your menopausal symptoms or at least it may reduce the HRT dose or the amount of time you need to take it.

In good health,

Kaye Wright