Hormone Replacement Therapy using hormone substitution drugs doesn’t protect older women from physical decline and disability as has previously been suggested, according to a Philadelphia study. Women taking HRT drugs are just as likely to lose muscle strength as those who go through menopause naturally.
Why would HRT protect against disability?
Women’s muscle cells have receptors for the hormone estrogen, and naturally high levels of estrogen in the blood of elderly women have been seen to result in greater than average muscle strength.
This had led researchers to believe that the decrease in estrogen levels experienced during menopause was responsible for physical decline and loss of strength in elderly women, and that taking hormone substitution drugs may reverse that trend, providing higher estrogen levels to protect against weakness and disability.
What does the study show?
The study, which was undertaken at the University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and published in the journal Menopause, aimed to discover whether elderly women taking Hormone Replacement Therapy drugs have better physical functioning as they get older, compared with women who have never taken HRT drugs.
Around 2,400 women over the age of sixty-five were split into two groups; one taking hormone substitution drugs and the other taking a placebo. They were studied over six years, and their muscle strength and walking speed were recorded.
Both groups showed a similar decline in both muscle strength and walking speed, and the group taking hormone substitution drugs did not show better physical functioning than the group taking the placebo. The study concluded that HRTdrugs do not protect elderly women from physical decline or disability. Combined with the potential side effects, the reasons to take HRT drugs are ever decreasing.
What are the side effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy Drugs?
Common short term side effects of taking Hormone Replacement Therapy drugs include breast tenderness, heavy periods, water retention, weight gain, depression, nausea, and headaches. Sometimes these can be reduced by changing the type and dose of the HRT drugs used.
Taking synthetic chemical Hormone Replacement Therapy over a long period of time can increase the risk of developing certain serious medical conditions, especially if a high dose of the HRTdrugs is taken. These conditions include breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, deep vein thrombosis, gallstones, stroke and heart disease.
Is there a natural alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy?
There are a number of natural ways to relieve the symptoms of menopause, which include hot flashes and night sweats, depression, vaginal atrophy, insomnia, or loss of sex drive. Fem-Support (60) is a natural dietary supplement that will help relieve these symptoms, and one capsule should be taken twice a day. Fem-Support (60) includes three herbal extracts that are known to reduce menopause symptoms. These are:
- Black Cohosh which relieves hot flashes, depression, and vaginal atrophy
- Don Quai Extract which relieves hot flashes
- Licorice Extract which naturally lowers estrogen and raises progesterone levels
Herbs which can be made into herbal teas to relieve menopause symptoms include chaste tree berries, lime blossom, and sage leaves. Various foods that are known to reduce the symptoms of menopause are potassium-rich avocados, calcium-rich canned fish, and progesterone-rich sweet potatoes, so try to include these in your diet.
Research is currently being undertaken into the effect of phytoestrogens, which can be found in soy beans, tofu, soy milk and linseeds, on menopause symptoms. Japanese women tend to have a high concentration of phytoestrogen rich foods in their diets, and it has been observed that they suffer fewer menopausal symptoms than Western women.