The loss of estrogen that accompanies menopause causes rapid acceleration of aging. Thin, wrinkled and sagging skin. Vaginal dryness. Allergies. Tummy and breasts sagging. Occasional or regular incontinence. Painful sex. More vaginal and urinary tract infections. Without proper treatment, women risk for high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease increase, in large part due to the lack of estrogen. Without estrogen, the arteries become stiff and don’t bend anymore. Instead, they crack and develop small scabs that can flake off and potentially cause heart attacks and strokes.
Many women will also begin to experience bone loss — another major health risk. Estrogen prevents the body from losing bone, while testosterone actually builds bone. Women who go through menopause and no longer have good levels of these hormones will experience dramatic bone loss the first several years. Osteopenia, or low bone mass, is the precursor to osteoporosis (severe bone loss). This is often a silent disease. We have to screen for it and monitor it. If we don’t screen for osteoporosis, we don’t catch it until a patient gets a fracture.
Lowering Your Risk for Osteoporosis
In the United States, 10 million people have osteoporosis, and 90 percent of them are women. Among White American women, who are at a higher risk, 37 to 50 percent will have low bone mass or osteopenia, and 13 to 18 percent will suffer from osteoporosis.
The best thing you can do to keep your bones healthy is Mother Nature’s therapy: estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen prevents bone from breaking down and testosterone helps build bone.
If a woman starts taking estrogen before completing menopause, she most likely won’t have bone problems. The Women’s Health Initiative study showed that even when women were on the worst hormone products, Premarin and Prempro, hip fractures decreased by 30 and 40 percent, respectively.
Already in menopause but haven’t taken any hormones? Don’t worry. Hormone replacement can even help post-menopausal women improve their overall health and strengthen their bones.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to maintain bone strength. After breaking a hip, the likelihood of death within the next year goes up 20 percent, and that patient will also be 25 percent more likely to need long-term care. In addition to the pain, discomfort, and expense, 50 percent never regain functionality, and many end up in nursing homes.
If a patient can’t afford nursing care, family members will end up with the caregiver’s job, which often hurts them financially and emotionally. It’s estimated that osteoporosis-related fractures impact around 25 million people each year and cost $16.9 billion annually.
To sum it all up: without HRT, you’re setting yourself up for not feeling well and possibly having brittle bones, as well as raising your risk for developing a host of chronic illnesses. I regularly see women who are on 10 to 20 medications for issues including high blood pressure, bone loss, sleep problems, yeast infections, urinary incontinence, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. Proper hormone balance can help restore good health and reduce risk for chronic diseases.
Make the appointment today. 480.619.4097.