While 65 isn’t a magic number, for many women it can usher in a variety of life changes - and more than just the potential for retirement or a change in medical benefits. By the time you reach your mid-sixties, you may notice drier, crepier skin, and you can still experience hormonal symptoms like insomnia, hot flashes, irritability, low libido, and vaginal dryness, even in the postmenopausal state.
In the past, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was widely discouraged for women over age 65 due to perceived risks. In recent years, newer research has supported the safe use of HRT in women over 65, with a wide-reaching range of benefits. While there are individual risk factors that may or may not make you a good candidate for HRT, the world’s leading medical bodies now agree that hormone replacement therapy after age 65 is not only safe but highly beneficial for improving and maintaining your quality of life.
HRT is an effective therapy for treating menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, sexual discomfort, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders. Patients often notice a significant resolution of symptoms in just the first few treatments, and there are a variety of available methods of administration to allow the treatment to suit any lifestyle and medical preferences. Read on to learn how the benefits of HRT go beyond hormonal symptoms.
HRT Benefits - Heart Disease and Bone Health
While there is a small potential for adverse effects, such as blood clots, heart disease, and breast cancer, these events are extremely rare, especially if you begin HRT as you’re approaching menopause. Much more prevalent are the benefits for heart and bone health. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 3 American women suffer from CVD, and a staggering 1 in 2.7 women will die from heart disease, making it the number 1 killer of women in the United States¹.
According to Dr. Howard Hodis, professor of Cardiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, “hormone replacement therapy is linked to cutting the number one cause of death [cardiovascular disease] by about half for the women who opted to take it.”² Dr. Hodis’ research showed that this was true primarily for women who started HRT within 6 years of menopause onset. Studies have shown that estrogen therapy can have a positive effect on cholesterol (both raising good cholesterol - HDL - and lowering LDL - bad cholesterol), as well as reducing the number of free radicals in the bloodstream that contribute to blood vessel and other tissue damage.
HRT has also been proven to aid in preventing osteoporosis (a weakening and brittling of the bones that can lead to frequent fractures and other complications) during and after menopause. Bioidentical estrogen therapy can prevent bone loss, and support other efforts such as regular exercise and healthy eating in maintaining adequate bone density, which becomes more difficult for postmenopausal women. Working proactively to prevent bone loss can mean a lower risk for bone fractures, surgeries, and major mobility issues.
At Vitality, we have many patients using different forms of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) to treat symptoms of menopause, as well as peri- and postmenopause. Both men and women can benefit significantly from BHRT, particularly in the quality of life and chronic disease prevention.
Wondering whether you’re a good candidate for BHRT, or if you should continue your current HRT therapy? Schedule an appointment with one of our providers to learn about treatment options and determine whether Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is right for you!
Zhang Y. Cardiovascular diseases in American women. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010;20(6):386-393. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2010.02.001 [PubMed]