The budding questions around menopausal hormone therapy are “Is it right for me?” And “Do the benefits outweigh the possible risks?” Most women going through menopause have asked these questions at least once while trying to make a decision about hormone therapy.
Menopausal hormone therapy (HT) is used to treat menopausal symptoms and to help protect overall health and was widely prescribed in the past. But the usage has declined over the past 20 years due to some research trials reporting possible cardiovascular risks with the estrogen-progestin combination.
What exactly is HT?
The short answer is that it’s a medication containing female hormones designed to replace the estrogen that a woman’s body no longer makes during menopause.
Things that should factor into your decision as to whether to take hormones are your age, your family medical history, your personal medical history and the severity of your symptoms. HT is successfully used to treat the common menopausal woes of hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. Another “plus” is that is helps prevent bone loss and reduces fractures in post menopause.
However, there have been risks associated with HT. Risks with heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer, all of which depend heavily on:
Type of therapy
Research into the pros and cons of hormone therapy has continued and new findings report that women with a low atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk can safely be administered HT. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it “now recommends HT in appropriate patients for the management of menopausal symptoms.” And the American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Disease in Women Committee says that women who are under the age of 60 or within 10 years of the onset of menopause have a low (5%) risk of ASCVD and no increase in risk for breast cancer.
Your doctor will cover all of the risks and benefits tailored to your particular situation so that you can make an educated decision as to whether to begin HT or not. A major factor to consider when making the decision is whether or not your menopausal symptoms impair or have a negative impact on your quality of life. Note that regardless of whether you begin HT or not, it’s important to seek continued follow-up care with your doctor, including mammograms and pelvic exams. And equally as important is to make healthy life choices such as incorporating exercise, eating a healthy diet, and managing stress, high cholesterol and blood pressure.
The takeaway from this is that HT may be a good treatment for you. Seek counsel with your doctor throughout your menopause and know that research into HT continues and new information and treatment options will be presented. Your doctor stays on top of this research and will know what is best for you based on your own personal medical history.