The “Critical Window” for Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you follow our blog, you’ve probably seen many of our articles on how hormone replacement therapy can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of menopause – as well as prevent many of the diseases that result from menopausal hormone decline.
But, less frequently discussed, is when hormone replacement therapy is optimal. A growing body of clinical research suggests that when you start (and stop) hormone replacement therapy makes a big difference in how effective it will be.
In this article the hormone therapy experts at Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, AZ explain the so-called “Critical Window Theory” of the timing of hormone replacement.
When Women Seek Help for Menopause
Some women wait until they are already overwhelmed by the side-effects of menopause to seek medical help for their symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, sleep difficulties, painful sex and more. Many women simply try to “tough it out” and suffer through menopause in silence, believing that the many uncomfortable symptoms are inevitable consequences of getting older.
But women do NOT have to suffer with menopause! Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) available at Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, AZ can offer dramatic relief that helps a woman feel like herself again.
The “Critical Window Theory” of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The critical window theory is a widely accepted hypothesis that suggests there is an optimal time to begin and stop hormone replacement therapy, to achieve the greatest benefits. According to a large amount of clinical research, well-timed hormone therapy not only significantly improves midlife wellness, but also can reduce the risk of developing a number of serious diseases and health conditions.
The critical window theory is based on several studies showing that the younger women start hormone replacement therapy, the greater its benefits both short term and long term. In other words, while it is It is never too late to start HRT research suggests that initiation of MHT soon after the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause appear will offer the most benefits.
“Critical Window Theory” of Hormone Replacement Therapy & Alzheimer’s
Estrogen is believed to be neuroprotective – offering benefits for retaining memory and cognition. This is one reason why the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) increases significantly in the post-menopause years, when estrogen levels have declined substantially.
The critical window theory suggests that the use of hormone replacement therapy during perimenopause or the early postmenopausal period may protect cognitive function and reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In fact, one study found a 30% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in women who started HRT within five years of menopause – and an even greater reduction when the HRT continued for ten years or more.
However, this reduced risk was not seen in women who started hormone replacement therapy later. So, researchers defined the “critical window” to reduce Alzheimer’s risk from age 50 to 60 and within five years of menopause.
“Critical Window Theory” of Hormone Replacement Therapy & Osteoporosis
Estrogen deficiency is one of the primary risk factors for osteoporosis and bone density loss. Women typically experience up to 20% of their bone loss within the first five years of menopause. So, women shouldn’t wait until they experience overt signs of menopause to start HRT.
Starting hormone replacement therapy can a woman maintain bone mass and aid in new bone growth even before she notices it happening. This can significantly reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing life-threatening bone fractures.
For osteoporosis prevention the “critical window” lies in early initiation of HRT coupled with a duration of therapy for at least 5 to 10 years.
“Critical Window Theory” of Hormone Replacement Therapy & Cardiac Disease
Estrogen plays quite a significant role in female cardiac health. So, it is no surprise that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women after menopause.
Researchers believe the estrogen acts on the linings of blood vessels and arteries to keep them flexible. But as estrogen levels drop after menopause, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides often increase, HDL (good) cholesterol decreases, and blood pressure becomes elevated.
Research shows that starting hormone replacement therapy within the “critical window” may support heart health due to the cardioprotective benefits of estrogen. In studies, women receiving hormone replacement therapy had a lower risk less plaque build-up in their coronary arteries and a lower risk of death.
In terms of the “critical window” hormone replacement therapy reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 32% in women who were within 10 years of menopause, but had no impact in women more than 10 years from menopause. Hormone replacement therapy also reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 41% among women aged 50 to 59 years at the start of treatment.
Hormone Replacement Therapy | Scottsdale, AZ
When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, it may “better late than never – but research shows that “the sooner the better” is the best course of action. Timely hormone replacement therapy during the “critical window” can significantly decrease the risk of serious illness and early death.
If you are a woman in mid-life who is experiencing some of the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, schedule an appointment at Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, Glendale or Chandler, AZ today. Starting HRT in a timely fashion can help you find fast relief from your current symptoms, as well as help prevent disease and support long-term wellness for decades to come.
Hormone Replacement Therapy | Scottsdale, AZ: 480-874-1515
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