Jorge J. Villarreal-Garcia, MD is an Obstetrician & Gynecologist (OB-GYN). Board-certified in both family medicine and OB-GYN, Dr. Villarreal brings 29 years of experience to patients in the El Paso, Texas area. In addition to general OB-GYN care, Dr. Villarreal offers hormone replacement therapy for both English- and Spanish-speaking patients.
Hormone Replacement Q & A
As women enter menopause, their hormone levels begin to change. Estrogen production drops, affecting the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Although some women have minor or even no symptoms, others are plagued by hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings. Other symptoms of menopause may include vaginal dryness or changes in sexual desire.
Why Hormone Therapy?
At one time, hormone therapy for women was considered the norm. It helped many women with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Doctors also thought it helped prevent heart disease and dementia. More recent research, however, indicated that in some women, hormone replacement therapy might actually increase the risk of heart disease. As research continued, it became clear that hormones did seem to increase the risk in some, but not all, women.
Is Hormone Therapy Risky?
Hormone therapy includes systemic medication (oral estrogen, progestin, or a combination of both) and topical medications like estrogen or progestin creams. The latter carry minimal risks, but may not help with symptoms like hot flashes. The risks of systemic hormone replacement depend on current age, age at menopause, family and personal history, and the dose and type of estrogen. The primary risks of systemic hormone replacement are heart disease, blood clots, stroke, and breast cancer. Women who have a history of these conditions should generally not receive hormone therapy.
Who Benefits from Hormone Therapy?
Systemic hormone therapy is still used in women who are otherwise healthy, particularly women who experience menopause before age 40 or whose ovaries have been surgically removed. Early menopause increases the risks of osteoporosis (bone thinning), heart disease, anxiety, depression, and a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. Women who have moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms may be good candidates. Women who have osteoporosis and aren’t helped by other treatments may also benefit from hormone replacement.