This article discusses the role of HRT, specifically Estrogen, in Healthy Aging. So, does HRT make you look younger?
What is HRT?
Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, is used to treat age-related hormone imbalances.
Many women seek out Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to battle the effects of Menopause and Perimenopause.
There are different types of HRT. The hormone Estrogen is most commonly prescribed.
Most are pills that you take every day, but there are also skin patches, vaginal creams, gels, and rings.
HRT & a Younger Appearance
The Hormone Estrogen is typically associated with the development of Female characteristics.
As discussed in my previous blog post, Imbalanced Hormones and Weight Gain, hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body. They tell your body what to do and when to do it.
Estrogen is in charge of the messages that impact your sexual and reproductive health. These include Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause.
In addition, Estrogen plays a role in other important processes in your body. Some of which play a role in Aging.
Additional Roles of Estrogen
- Collagen Production
- Maintenance of Bone Density
- Improvement in Muscle Mass
- Supports Brain Health
- Helps Lower Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure
Estrogen & Anti-Aging
The above functions of Estrogen point to its’ role in Anti-Aging. In particular, a decline in Estrogen has a significant impact on the skin.
We can thank declining Estrogen for our wrinkles, sagging skin, and fine lines.
Skin aging can be significantly delayed by the administration of Estrogen. HRT with Estrogen can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Estrogen also keeps the skin elastic and helps to sustain muscle tone. Moreover, Estrogen can promote hair growth, contributing to a more youthful appearance.
Anti-Aging Benefits of HRT
Life expectancy has increased by 30 years since the year 1900. However, the age of Menopause has only been delayed by about 5 years.
Women today will live approximately 25 years longer after Menopause than previous generations!
Medical advancements have extended the years we live, however there are many challenges that come with these advanced years.
HRT is not the “Fountain of Youth”, although replacing hormones is proving to be beneficial for some as they age.
Below are some additional Anti-Aging benefits of HRT, beyond looking younger.
- Lowered risk of fractures associated with frail bones
- Increased independence
- Improved quality of life
- Enhanced mental health
Menopause & Perimenopause Explained
Menopause is the 12 months following a woman’s last period. It marks the official end to a woman’s reproductive years.
Perimenopause are the years leading up to Menopause. This is where a marked drop in Estrogen occurs, the main hormone produced by the ovaries.
Changes in hormones can occur 8-10 years prior to Menopause. Women can enter Perimenopause in their 30’s, however its’ typical onset is in the early 40’s.
Symptoms of Menopause & Perimenopause
Women vary greatly in their experiences of both Menopause and Perimenopause.
Some report minimal symptoms, others can struggle with a multitude of side effects from a drop in their Estrogen.
- Irregular Periods
- Worsened PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Weight gain
- Loss of sex drive
- Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
- Fertility issues
- Hot flashes
- Mental health issues (anxiety, depression, mood swings)
- Vaginal dryness
Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Research studies support the belief that higher Estrogen levels result in a more youthful appearance.
However, manipulating levels of Estrogen through hormone therapy is not without risk.
The largest clinical trial of Estrogen replacement found an increased risk of the conditions below:
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Breast cancer
Reducing Your Risk
Additional studies have found that the above risks vary depending on Age, Type of HRT, and Health History.
More recent studies suggest the initial concerns of HRT risk are rare.
The following is recommended to reduce the risks of HRT:
- Start HRT prior to the age of 60 or within 10 years of Menopause.
- Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time needed.
- Attend regular follow up visits with your Doctor.
- Receive regular Mammograms and Pelvic exams.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices.
Is HRT Right for You?
If you are considering HRT, talk to your doctor about your individual symptoms and potential health risks.
It is recommended that this be an ongoing conversation throughout Menopause.
Takeaways-Does HRT Make you Look Younger?
HRT may make you look and feel younger!
While nothing can turn back the clock, Hormone Replacement Therapy does improve some aspects of Aging.
Replacing Estrogen allows the body to resume functions that typically decline or disappear with as we age.
However, there are risks involved. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if HRT is right for you.
Hungry for more?
Interested in more healthy aging content?
Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s Blog for more healthy aging content!
Click HERE to sign up for our Nutrition for Healthy Aging Newsletter!
Kathryn is a Registered Dietitian and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is also Certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Weight Management.