Some women have symptoms during menopause — such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal discomfort — that negatively affect their quality of life.
For relief, these women often turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace the hormones their bodies are no longer producing.
HRT is considered to be the best way to treat severe menopause symptoms and is available — via prescription — in several forms. These forms include:
- topical creams and gels
- vaginal suppositories and rings
- skin patches
Transdermal skin patches are used as a hormone delivery system to treat particular symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation.
They are called transdermal (“trans” meaning “through” and “dermal” referring to the dermis or skin). This is because the hormones in the patch are absorbed through the skin by blood vessels and then delivered throughout the body.
There are two types of patches:
- estrogen (estradiol) patch
- combination estrogen (estradiol) and progestin (norethindrone) patch
There are also low-dose estrogen patches, but these are principally used for reducing osteoporosis risk. They aren’t used for other menopause symptoms.
Estrogen is the group of hormones produced primarily by the ovaries. It supports and promotes the development, regulation, and maintenance of the female reproductive system and sex characteristics.
Progestin is a form of progesterone, a hormone that affects the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
The risks of HRT include:
This risk appears to be greater for women over the age of 60. Other factors that impact the risks include:
- dose and type of estrogen
- whether treatment includes estrogen alone or estrogen with progestin
- current health condition
- family medical history
Clinical research indicates that for the short-term treatment of the symptoms of menopause, the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks:
- According to a
studyof 27,000 women over an 18-year period, menopausal hormone therapy for 5 to 7 years does not increase the risk of death.
reviewof several large studies (one involving over 70,000 women) indicates that transdermal hormone therapy is associated with less risk for gallbladder disease than oral hormone therapy.
If you feel that HRT is an option you might consider for managing menopause, you should contact your doctor to discuss both the benefits and the risks of HRT as they pertain to you personally.
The menopause patch and HRT can assist in managing the symptoms of menopause. For many women, it appears that the benefits outweigh the risks.
To see if it’s right for you, consult with your doctor who will consider your age, medical history, and other important personal information before making a recommendation.