Hormone Replacement Therapy and Menopause
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has helped many women treat certain symptoms associated with menopause. Symptoms associated with menopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats and dry and itchy skin.
HRT has also reduced the risk of osteoporosis, has helped some women improve their mood and sense of well-being, has led to decreased tooth loss and has helped reduce the risk of colon cancer. Some women, however, struggle to determine if the benefits of this treatment outweigh the risks associated with it.
HRT is a treatment that supplements the body with estrogen alone, or an estrogen-progesterone combination. As women go through menopause, the ovaries may not produce adequate levels of these hormones. HRT is sometimes used to supplement these hormones. Of course, women should carefully consider the benefits and risks associated with this treatment.
Only a highly trained and experienced physician working closely with the patient can determine if this treatment's benefits outweigh its risks. It is always important to discuss all possible risks and complications with a thoroughly trained professional before making a decision as to whether to receive this treatment.
One risk associated with hormone replacement therapy is an increased risk of endometrial cancer if the woman still has her uterus and does not take progesterone along with estrogen. An increased risk of blood clots or stroke may also be associated with this treatment.
According to a study by Women's Health Initiative, women taking a progesterone-estrogen combination long-term are at increased risk of heart disease. New studies have shown that this may be related to women at an advanced age, and women who take hormone replacement therapy at a younger age, when they are just beginning menopause, may actually decrease their risk of heart disease. Women should speak to their physician for more information and to discuss these risks.