Menopause: Time For Hormone Therapy?
Taking hormones or not? Many women who experience the first symptoms of menopause are faced with this question. There is no doubt that hormones help relieve menopause symptoms, but recent studies have highlighted the potential risks that come with hormone therapy (HT).
In 2002, the Health Initiative for Women (WHI) found that prolonged use of estrogen and progestin hormone therapy caused a slight increase in risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A few years later, a new approach to the study showed that some younger women who took estrogen actually might have a lower risk of coronary heart disease. "Since the study results were first published in 2002, the public has been bombarded with conflicting information on how to interpret these findings," says Nanette Santoro, MD, Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Medicine Albert Einstein. "This is a complex issue and patients should talk frankly with their doctors to make the best choice of treatment according to their individual needs," he added.
Based on the latest research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that hormone therapy (estrogen and progestin), used to relieve menopause symptoms, be used with the lowest possible dosage and for the shortest possible time. However, each woman is unique, so it is important that you talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy according to individual need.
Here are five tips about when and how to consult your doctor about hormone therapy:
1. Make a list of menopause symptoms in order of priority, including how often and how strong they show.
2. Learn about hormone therapy before going to the doctor.
3. Consider your own comfort level regarding the benefits and risks of hormone therapy before seeing the doctor.
4. Prepare a list of questions for your doctor.
5. Try to create a record of your family's health.
Also remember, work with your doctor to reassess the treatment choices regularly. This will help you to make the best decision with confidence while going through this period of menopausal change in your life.
Written by Armen Hareyan
Materials from Spanish Language La Opinion are used in this report.
Reviewed by Dr. Ramona Bates. See more stories by Dr. Bates.