05 Mar Deciding Whether To Use HRT
Something that often comes up in my therapy room is whether to use HRT (hormone replacement therapy), or not. Clients may have been experiencing symptoms that are linked with the menopuase, such as anxiery, sleep issues and a drastic drop in confidence, often due to something like hot flashes taking over their life.
You might think that HRT, if it can help, would be a good thing.
As a therapist, and not a doctor, it’s not something I can advise upon. There’s a lot of evidence for the arguments of both sides of the coin. So much so that it can get downright confusing. Even many GPs aren’t as informed on the subject as we would hope them to be.
Talking about Menopause
It’s great that the subject of menopause has become much more acceptable to talk about. In my mother’s day it was whispered about (“oh, she’s going through the change”). Today, it’s openly discussed on everything from in the workplace to LinkedIn. This is good. Menopause can have a huge impact on so many aspects of a woman’s life. Once confident women report suddenly asking themselves, “where did she go?” as the ballsy woman they once were fades away.
High profile celebrities like Davina McColl and Carol Vorderman have been vociferous in coming out in favour of HRT. Waterstones’ shelves heave under new titles and it’s now no longer taboo. The downside of this, however, is that there is a lot of information out there to sift through.
For those with family or personal histories of breast cancer or deep vein thrombosis, the decision whether to use HRT can be agonising. They are literally adding up risks in their heads. Read something that says it will double your risk, will naturally send alarm bells off. Fear can take over.
The decision whether to use HRT is a very personal one. Then, once you’ve committed to that road, there could be a number of iterations of different treatments to find the one that is right for you.
Deciding whether to use HRT
What I can tell you from working with clients is:
- You need to find a GP who will take you seriously and is open to HRT. Some are not
- Reading about this yourself is the only way to understand what it means for you. Take responsibility and get yourself as educated as possible
- You can still listen to friends, but think for yourself
- HRT is not an excuse to eat badly, forget to exercise or look after yourself. You need to help your HRT do the work
- This is not a decision that is set in stone. If you go on HRT, you can come off it, if you wish. Likewise, you can swap medications, increase and decrease doses, or go private and get a more bespoke service if you have the cash
Resources to help you decide whether to use HRT
Here are some sites that I have found to be excellent resources on HRT.
An excellent look at the risks and benefits in a way that is easy to understand
A beautiful site that covers not only menopause but beauty and lifestyle features for any woman at this time of life.
A friendly forum that is supportive and often knowledgeable. Don’t make any changes to your dose or make decisions on this alone. Always consult your GP or private menopause consultant first.
Very informative if you have decided to stick with the natural route.
UK guidelines for GPs.
A pro-menopause group on Facebook. This would be more useful if you do decide to go this way, and want ideas and support approaching your GP, rather than help making a decision.
Therapy for menopause?
Many of the symptoms can also be helped through therapy, too, especially anxiety and sleep. If you’d like a no-cost chat to see if you’d like to work on them with me, contact me here