Hormone Replacement Therapy: Is it right choice for you?

Right up to 2002, hormone replacement therapy was commonly utilized to treat the symptoms of menopause and to safeguard long-term wellness. It was a big scale clinical trial the uncovered the associated health risks.  So what’s it all mean to you and whether or not hormone replacement therapy would benefit you?

What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

When the body enters menopause, hormone replacement therapy medicines replace the hormones the body no longer provides.  HRT is also used for treating hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Other benefits of prolonged use of Hormone therapy medicines were thought to be the prevention of heart disease and osteoporosis.

In 2002, when the results of a large clinical trial showed that there were actually more health risks for postmenopausal women than those without hormone therapy, attitudes regarding hormone therapy changed quickly.  Doctors across the country became cautious about prescribing hormone therapy as the health problems associated with it grew.  The majority of women that were taking hormone therapy stopped immediately..many without even the consult of a doctor.

Hormone Therapy Benefits

Normal hormone replacement therapy typically involves using estrogen and progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone.  These medications can help ease vaginal signs of menopause, like dryness, itchiness, burning and pain with sexual intercourse.

While using hormone therapy to prevent postmenopausal conditions is not normally recommended, women that take estrogen simply for the short-term relief of menopausal symptoms might be protected from the following ailments:

  • Osteoporosis. Research has shown that hormone therapy can stop the bone loss that develops following menopause, which reduces the chance of osteoporosis involved hip bone fractures.
  • Colorectal cancer. Research has revealed that hormone therapy can reduce the chances of colorectal cancer.
  • Heart disease. Some data indicate that estrogen can reduce the risk of heart disease if taken at the start of the postmenopausal years.  The Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) -is a randomized, highly controlled medical study researching estrogen use and coronary disease in younger postmenopausal women.  The study is taking place now but won’t be concluded for several years in the future.

For those women that go through menopause naturally, both estrogen and progestin are prescribed because estrogen alone can actually raise the risk of cancer in the uterus.  However, women who have a hysterectomy can usually take estrogen without the progestin.

Are There Health Risks With Hormone Therapy?

According to the biggest medical study on the subject, taking estrogen and progestin (Prempro) elevated the risk of some very serious conditions. After more than a year, ten thousand women using estrogen plus progestin might experience:

  • 7 more cases of heart disease than women using a placebo
  • 8 more cases of cancer of the breast than women using a placebo
  • 8 more cases of stroke than women using a placebo
  • 18 more cases of thrombus than women using a placeb
  • A rise in irregular mammograms, especially in incorrect positives

Interestingly, the research showed that there was no greater risk of breast cancer or heart disease in the group of women using estrogen without progestin. Over the course of a year, however, ten thousand women taking estrogen by itself could encounter:

  • 12 more cases of stroke than women using a placebo
  • 6 more cases of thrombus in the legs compare to women using a  placebo
  • A rise in mammography abnormalities

The impact of hormone therapy on mammograms is critical as it show that women on hormone therapy should have mammograms and additional testing more often.

Who Should Think About Hormone Therapy?

In spite of the health hazards, estrogen is still the most common treatment for symptoms of  menopauses. The total overall hazard to an individual woman using hormone therapy is very low.  This low risk may be reasonable for you depending on your menopausal symptoms.

The advantages of short-term hormone therapy could over-shadow the hazards if you:

  •     Moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms have become a part of everyday life
  • Other treatments haven’t helped or you are losing bone mass
  • Experienced premature menopause (stopped having periods before 40 years old), or lost ordinary function of your ovaries prior to 40 years old (premature ovarian failure)

For women who go through premature menopause or premature ovarian failure have a whole different combination of health hazards to consider when compare with those that hit menopause around the age of fifty, the average age a woman reaches menopause.

  • A decreased likelihood of breast cancer
  • A higher probability of osteoporosis
  • A greater risk of heart disease

Also, hormone therapy seems to lower the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease when treatment began very soon after menopause in younger women. The protection benefits of hormone therapy might surpass the risks for women who go through menopause early.

Consult with your doctor about your personal situation and the risks involved.

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Posted in Hormone Replacement, menopause studies

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