Menopause is a naturally occurring part of life for women, and while some women have little to no difficulty with symptoms, other women may need to see a doctor for relief of their symptoms. This article will compare two brand-name hormone therapies used for menopause, Premarin and Prempro. This is not a comprehensive explanation of the two, and if you have any questions, you should talk with your doctor.
When a woman's ovaries stop making estrogen, fertility ends and a series of changes called menopause begins. Menopause can occur gradually, or it can start abruptly after surgery that removes the uterus and ovaries. The latter is often called surgical menopause. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, as this is when the body naturally has a drop in estrogen levels (premarin.com). Once a full 12 months has passed since the last menstrual period, menopause has occurred. Before this time, a woman may have various symptoms as her body is changing, such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, thinning hair and increased abdominal fat.
Menopause does not need any medical treatment. However, medications are often used to relieve symptoms of menopause and help alleviate any conditions that may occur as the body ages. What hormone replacement therapies do is replace some of the hormone that is being lost from aging, thereby lessening symptoms.
Premarin and Prempro
Premarin and Prempro are the brand names for two hormonal therapy medications.
Premarin is a combination of different estrogens and can help relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness, along with lessening any bone loss. It is made for women without a uterus who have moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. There are various dosage strengths of the medication and it is important to talk to your doctor and take the lowest dose that is effective for relieving your symptoms. It comes in a cream and a tablet form. For women who still have their uterus, Premarin may be taken with a progestin, another type of hormone.
Prempro is comprised of a combination of estrogens along with progestin. It is often used for women who still have their uterus and are going through menopause to relieve dryness and hot flashes, and to help decrease bone loss . As with Premarin, it should be taken at the lowest effective dose and the shortest duration needed.
Premarin has come under fire for not only the possible side effects from hormone therapy, but also for the ingredients it is made up of. The drug is made from estrogens from pregnant mare's urine (hence the name Premarin), There has been concern over the way these mares are treated, because they are confined in very small areas once they are impregnated. Once they give birth, they are returned to the rest of the horses, and if they do not become pregnant again soon, they are either auctioned, or more likely, slaughtered.
The Women's Health Initiative did a long-term study on women and hormone replacement therapy and found various risks of being on the medication, including higher risks of breast cancer, stroke, ovarian cancer and heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. The risks and benefits of being on hormone therapy vary with each individual and should therefore be thoroughly discussed with your doctor.
Menopause is a naturally occurring event, and there are other options besides prescription medicine that may be effective for some women. Lifestyle modifications such as exercise, dressing in layers, healthy eating, reducing alcohol consumption, and using over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can all help with symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain and vaginal dryness. Other medications like antidepressants have been used for off-label prescription purposes, but it is best to talk with your physician about your symptoms, your health history, any concerns you may have, and possible interactions with any current medical conditions.