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What is Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Menopause happens when a woman's menstrual period naturally ceases. During this time, female hormones, namely estrogen, can fluctuate rapidly, causing a number of symptoms, including hot flashes, sexual problems, and osteoporosis. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been successful in lessening these symptoms, but it can have some dangerous side effects, so some women opt for alternative hormone replacement therapy to reduce the problems caused by menopause. Alternative hormone replacement therapy allows women to relieve the symptoms of menopause without the dangerous side effects. In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, these alternatives include things such as herbal supplements and medications.

Doctors agree that living a healthy lifestyle can be an alternative hormone replacement therapy. Smoking should be avoided, and alcohol should only be consumed in moderation, as both of these habits can weaken bones, putting a woman at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Exercising regularly during and after menopause can help strengthen a woman's bones, preventing osteoporosis.

Eating right and getting the proper vitamins and minerals is also important. Women going through menopause should be sure to get enough calcium, as well as vitamin D. Dairy products, soy products, and calcium-enriched foods are all good sources of calcium. Vitamin D is important because it helps the body absorb the calcium. It is only found in certain foods, like egg yolks and liver, so it is a little harder to include in a diet without a supplement.

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Vitamin and herbal supplements are popular with women using alternative hormone replacement therapy. A number of these herbal supplements are believed ease the symptoms of menopause. Some herbal supplements, like evening primrose, ginseng, black cohash, and kava have all been used to relieve hot flashes during menopause.

Studies suggest certain medications for other medical conditions may also relieve uncomfortable hot flashes. Gabapentin, which is to help control seizures, is one such medication, as is clonidine, which is used for a variety of medical conditions. A low dose of certain anti-depressants has also been known to help ease the intensity of some hot flashes, as well as help with mood swings. Many anti-depressants, however, do have some sexual side effects, which can affect a woman's sex drive, adding to the sexual problems that a woman may already be experiencing.

As estrogen levels go down during menopause, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner. It can also become drier, resulting in pain during sex. Lubricants and vaginal moisturizers can be used during sex to ease this discomfort. If a lack of desire is the problem, some women choose to get testosterone injections or prescriptions, which can help with arousal. Since testosterone is a male hormone, many women who choose alternative hormone replacement therapy may not want to go this route.

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