Every woman ages differently and every woman goes through hormonal changes differently. And every woman approaches menopause differently. However, there are broad guidelines that can help you decide if and when hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the best choice. Knowing when to start HRT can help you maximize its impact while minimizing any adverse risks. By strategically considering the timing of treatment, you may not only prevent unnecessary suffering, but protect your health for years to come.
When to Start HRT
Menopause comes at different times for different people. While the average age of menopause in the United States is 51, many factors can impact when menopause occurs, including racial and ethnic differences and overall health. But regardless of when menopause starts, the hormonal changes that lead to the end of your reproductive cycle actually begin years earlier.
So, when should you start hormone therapy? In part, it depends on your symptoms. For many women, perimenopause — which can begin as many as 10 years before menopause (in a woman’s late 30s or early 40s) — can be an uncomfortable and distressing experience. The symptoms of perimenopause can include irregular periods, mood disturbances, sleep disturbances, increased anxiety, and vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, any of which benefit from HRT treatment. However, some women worry that their symptoms are not severe enough to warrant hormone therapy, particularly if they are relatively young. Others believe that they are too young for HRT even while experiencing severe perimenopause symptoms.
While it’s common to assume that it’s too early to start hormone replacement therapy, research suggests that there may be meaningful benefits to starting HRT earlier rather than later. In fact, a growing body of evidence indicates that there is a critical window of opportunity for HRT to confer significant long-term health benefits.
The critical window theory is based on a plethora of studies showing that the younger women start HRT, the greater its benefits, not just in terms of symptom reduction, but in reducing the risk of multiple health conditions that become more prevalent with age. More specifically, earlier initiation of hormone therapy may provide superior protection from osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and diabetes, among others.
In fact, studies indicate that women who initiate hormone therapy before their final menstrual period show increased blood flow to the hippocampus and better verbal memory compared to nonusers. What’s more, these neuroprotective effects could increase the longer you take HRT. When it comes to diabetes, researchers have found that HRT may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in menopausal women and improves insulin sensitivity in young women already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more effectively than in older women.
Of course, each woman’s experience of perimenopause is unique, and each individual must determine what kind of interventions they are comfortable with. But the evidence for the critical window therapy is compelling, and there is little reason to avoid initiating HRT earlier rather than later.
How To Get Help
ReVital offers free consultations where you can speak to one of our clinicians about ReVital’s Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. At ReVital, we can conduct simple blood tests to evaluate the levels of these hormones in your system and prescribe supplements or therapies to treat and control the majority of hormonal imbalances. We also encourage that you connect with your regular doctor about any changes in your health and moods.