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Diseases & Conditions > Menopause

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Signs You May Need Hormone Replacement Therapy

Sheryl Kraft

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Menopause symptoms run the gamut, and every woman has her own unique experience.

Are you lucky enough to breeze through menopause with symptoms so mild and manageable you barely notice?

Or are you, instead, bothered by symptoms so pervasive and problematic that you’re wondering how and where to get some  relief?

There’s been so much conflicting information about hormone replacement therapy, which was once used widely to help many women manage bothersome symptoms of menopause.

But  then beginning in 2002, thinking changed when troubling findings surfaced during clinical trials and those trials came to an early and abrupt halt because of the association of hormones with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, urinary incontinence, dementia and gallbladder disease.  Millions of women abandoned their hormones out of confusion and fear.

As more research was conducted, experts found those studies to be seriously flawed in the way they were conducted and the groups of women they were conducted on.

Today, hormone replacement therapy is currently approved to treat hot flashes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and osteoporosis, but in much lower doses and for shorter periods of time (three to five years)  than in the past.

You may want to consider hormone replacement therapy if…

  • The potential benefits outweigh the potential risks, which are less for women who begin prior to age 60, or within 10 years of menopause.
  • Your sleep is regularly interrupted because of moderate-to-severe night sweats.
  • Your spend your days mopping up your sweat at too-frequent intervals.
  • Your periods stopped before age 40 (known as premature menopause).
  • Your ovaries stopped functioning prior to age 40 (known as premature ovarian insufficiency).
  • You’ve already had significant bone loss or are at high risk for osteoporosis or a fracture and cannot take, or aren’t benefitting from, other treatments. You’re at high risk for osteoporosis if you are small and thin-boned; have a family history of osteoporosis or a history of fractures in adulthood;  have or have had anorexia; are a smoker; take certain medications like prednisone; use alcohol excessively.
  • Your vaginal dryness and/or irritable bladder symptoms are moderate-to-severe and cause bleeding or discomfort so great that they interfere with your ability to exercise, have intercourse or enjoy your everyday life.

Hormone replacement therapy is not advised for women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer, blood clots in the legs or lungs, stroke, liver disease or unexplained vaginal bleeding. The risks of hormone replacement therapy are greater for women who begin taking it more than 10 to 20 years after the onset of menopause or after age 60.

The risks and benefits of HRT vary depending on your age, the type of therapy you’re taking, and your personal health history. Have a discussion with your healthcare provider; together, you can make the decision that is best – and right – for you.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/in-depth/hormone-therapy/art-20046372 

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do

http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/hormone-therapy-benefits-risks

https://medlineplus.gov/hormonereplacementtherapy

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/The-Menopause-Years

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16979-estrogen--hormones

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