Planned Parenthood has, for a long time, helped women gain affordable access to sexual and reproductive-health needs like birth control, pelvic exams, and emergency contraception. But the organization expanded its offerings this week to help serve women beyond their reproductive years with the rollout of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). As of September 10, women who visit any of the Planned Parenthood of New York City's five health centers can receive the game-changing therapy, which the Mayo Clinic describes as "medications containing female hormones to replace the ones the body no longer makes after menopause." And, considering the current political climate, the expansion of offerings is a big deal. "As we face an onslaught of attacks on our sexual and reproductive health and rights from Washington, it’s more important than ever that we expand access to these important services while we continue to fight for our sexual and reproductive freedom," a press release from the organization notes.
During menopause, symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness are common due to the body's drop in estrogen, and MHT is a treatment to help alleviate those issues, after periods have . "The changes that occur during menopause can be debilitating for some people, affecting their ability to work, sleep, or function well," Elizabeth Kahn, associate vice president of clinical services at Planned Parenthood of New York City, tells me. "That's why it’s important that we provide support and medical care to those experiencing menopause."
"The changes that occur during menopause can be debilitating for some people, affecting their ability to work, sleep, or function well. That's why it’s important that we provide support and medical care to those experiencing menopause." —Elizabeth Kahn, Planned Parenthood
There are many factors that affect which type of hormone therapy someone chooses to use, and Planned Parenthood's service can help women select the best personal option, Kahn says. Currently, there are both estrogen-only and combined estrogen/progesterone treatments available, which can be given orally, topically, as a vaginal ring, or as an an intravaginal cream. According to the National Institutes of Health, how it's taken should reflect the specific purpose it aims to treat. "A vaginal estrogen ring or cream can ease vaginal dryness, urinary leakage, or vaginal or urinary infections, but does not relieve hot flashes," the research center notes. And it doesn't just help with symptoms, either: "Hormone therapy has also been proven to prevent bone loss and reduce fracture in postmenopausal individuals," she says.
Even though MHT is only being offered at New York City's health centers at the moment, Kahn says those outside of the Big Apple can check in on their closest PP health center by going online to browse the available services. And, of course, talk with your doctor before seeking the service to make sure MHT is a health-enhancing treatment for you.
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