Knowing when to start HRT is not the easiest question to answer - this is an individual decision and is primarily dependent on your symptoms and personal medical history. You should always ensure you understand all your options before making such a decision, and learn what's true about HRT and what is a myth.
Knowing when to start HRT can be tricky - there is no 'right time'; it is an individual choice. Some people will prefer to try non-drug solutions first, whilst others prefer a quick solution to symptoms. First, however, you need to be sure that your symptoms are due to menopausal changes, not something else.
When should I start HRT?
No one can tell you when to start HRT - this is a decision you need to make for yourself. Depending on your medical history, you can begin HRT as soon as you begin to experience menopausal symptoms. In addition, there are long term benefits to starting HRT earlier in life, including protecting your bone and cardiovascular health. You should, however, make sure you understand how HRT can impact your symptoms and what your individual benefits and risks are. This way, you can make a decision you feel most comfortable with.
What does the evidence say?
Evidence suggests that it is better to start HRT within 10 years of menopause and before 60. Scientific research shows this provides maximum benefits for heart protection and bone health. It is unusual to start HRT over the age of 60, as this may slightly increase the risk of cardiovascular problems - this is, however, very dependent on your personal medical history. So, if you are interested in HRT, it is worth considering it earlier, often in your late 40's or early 50's.
However, taking HRT is a personal decision. Ultimately it comes down to what you are most comfortable with. Hot flash and night sweat symptoms generally last about 5 years (give or take), and the severity of your symptoms should be a driving factor behind whether or not you choose to treat them. If your symptoms are affecting your everyday life, relationships, ability to work - then we urge you to consider seeking treatment options sooner rather than later. Even if your symptoms provide you with a slight bother, it may still be worth considering HRT for the many protective benefits. On the other hand, some women feel that their symptoms are very manageable and would prefer not to treat them with medication - the choice is entirely yours.
Don't forget the option of local ostrogen cream or pessaries to deal with vaginal pain, discomfort, dryness, or urinary symptoms. Local estrogen can be an easy way to deal with those problems without using patches or tablets.
A consultation with a Bia menopause specialist is a great way to find out where you are in terms of your menopause. It will also provide you with the lowest risk treatment options. You can choose to either purchase HRT directly or discuss the recommended options with your GP.