Menopause can be a hard transition for women. While some experience little to no change in their bodies, there is a long list of symptoms that many women have to deal with. Some of these symptoms include hot flashes, weight gain, anxiety, lack of sleep or a combination.
Women between the ages of 45 to 55 begin to produce lower levels of reproductive hormones, and the beginning symptoms of menopause generally start to show.
Also at this time, women’s risk for heart disease increases, with high blood pressure adding to that risk.
Women will often seek hormone replacement therapy to gain some relief from the pain they are experiencing.
However, there is no clear link with hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause, and it is generally only used for a limited period of time in hopes of reducing a patient’s pain.
A new study, published in the journal Hypertension, done by Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary, suggests that women who use hormone patches or creams had lower blood pressure than those who took estrogen-only pills.
“Estrogen can reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. If you have a uterus, you’ll likely need to take progesterone along with the estrogen. Estrogen without progesterone increases the risk of uterine cancer,” per Nebraska Medicine.
The study included 112,240 women between the years 2008-2019 who were using estrogen-only hormone therapy medication. Researchers studied which women were being diagnosed with high blood pressure following the use of medication.
According to their research, women who took estrogen-only pills had a 14% higher risk of getting diagnosed with high blood pressure compared to those who used skin patches or creams. Oral estrogen created a 19% higher risk than vaginal creams or suppositories.
“This is the biggest study that’s only looked at women who are only taking estrogen and have never taken a progestin as (hormone replacement therapy),” senior study author Dr. Sofia Ahmed, a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Canada, told CNN.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion, who was not involved in the study, told CNN, “Physicians who treat menopause ‘almost never use oral estrogen anymore because it goes through the liver and increases blood clot proteins and triglycerides and is associated with slight increases in blood pressure.’”
“The North American Menopause Society recommends, again and again, that for symptomatic women who are under 60 and within 10 years of menopause, the benefits still outweigh the risks,” Faubion said. “And for women with risk factors, we would try to minimize risk by using transdermal instead of oral to avoid first-pass metabolism through the liver.”
The Mayo Clinic shared some advice on how to control your blood pressure if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms:
- Try to keep a healthy weight.
- Maintain a balanced diet that includes all food groups.
- Stay away from processed and high-sodium foods.
- Exercise daily.
- Prevent high stress.
- Reduce alcohol use.
- If you smoke, quit.