The frequency of symptoms is often the trigger that sends women to their physicians for guidance. Indications of menopause like hot flashes can last for years from when a woman has her last menstrual cycle.3 Successful management and relief of symptoms are possible with help from healthcare professionals.
Menopause symptoms begin when the female’s ovaries stop producing estrogen. To alleviate persistent and quality-of-life-affecting symptoms, hormone replacement therapy is the recommended gold standard.1,4 To replace the loss of balance in hormones, there are two common menopause treatments: systemic hormone therapy and vaginal hormone therapy. Additionally, non-hormonal options may also have a desired effect on women unable or unwilling to partake in hormone replacement therapy.1
Systemic hormone therapy
Systemic hormone therapy (SHT) allows the absorption of estrogen into the bloodstream to achieve a therapeutic effect. The hormone being carried through the bloodstream is the systemic aspect meaning that multiple body systems can be “touched” by the hormone. Systemic hormone therapy involves hormone delivery orally by a pill or topically through the skin with a cream or patch. SHT usually combines the two missing hormones, estrogen and progesterone, for a safer overall effect. The addition of progesterone in systemic replacement therapy is key in reducing the risk of cancer in at-risk female candidates.4
Suppository and direct absorption therapy
For women not experiencing systemic symptoms like hot flashes, there are other treatments for other symptoms. When menopause directly affects the genitourinary (genital and urinary) system, some women may experience vaginal dryness and pain, urinary tract infections, and an increase in urinary frequency.5 Addressing these symptoms can mean hormone replacement and additional discomfort supports closer to the affected areas. Vaginal suppositories, creams, rings, and gels all work toward rebalancing hormone losses. However, without the systemic absorption of a pill, there a can be fewer alternate or adverse effects on other body.5
Menopause doesn’t have to be miserable
For those experiencing symptoms of menopause who are looking for relief, be reassured that there are options. As women’s health research continues to grow, better relief and treatment will continue to surface. Relief for menopause symptoms is possible by working closely with a health professional to learn your eligibility and to discuss risk factors. Always be sure to seek help and guidance from your healthcare practioner.
- Crandall CJ, Mehta JM, Manson JE. Management of menopausal symptoms: A review. JAMA. 2023;329(5):405–420. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.24140
- Greendale GA, Karlamangla AS, Maki PM. The menopause transition and cognition. JAMA. 2020;323(15):1495–1496. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1757
- Avis NE, Crawford SL, Greendale G, et al. Duration of menopausal vasomotor symptoms over the menopause transition. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):531–539. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8063
- Jin J. Treatment of menopause symptoms With hormone therapy. JAMA. 2022;327(17):1716. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.5105
Ballagh SA. Vaginal hormone therapy for urogenital and menopausal symptoms. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2005-869480