Over the years there have been questions asked and answered over and over again about hormone replacement therapy. If you have reached menopause, had a hysterectomy or are over 50, you have likely heard the pros and cons of taking HRT and wondered if this is the right choice for your menopause symptoms. If you are confused about HRT and wonder if you should begin taking it, it may help you to know a bit about the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy and how it works.
As for the benefits of HRT, it does help to control hot flashes. If you are bothered by night sweats or hot flashes then taking estrogen will help to control those symptoms. It can also help to prevent osteoporosis, vaginal dryness and even reduce your risk for developing diabetes. Hormone replacement can improve your skin appearance; much like taking birth control pills can help to clear up teenage acne. Studies are currently underway to see just how effective hormone replacement therapy is at reducing your risk for colon cancer as well.
Of course, there are also disadvantages or risks to taking hormones. Hormone replacement therapy has been linked to an increase for the risk of stroke, particularly in older women or those who take high doses of estrogen. It can increase your risk for developing gallbladder diseases and gall stones as well as blood clots. For those who have undergone oophorectomies or the surgical removal of the ovaries and still have their uterus, hormone replacement can put you at a much higher risk for developing uterine cancer.
Overall, many women do very well with hormone replacement therapy and others do well without it. The ultimate choice is yours to make. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are terribly uncomfortable or to the point that you cannot function normally then your doctor may recommend HRT. Understand that all women do not take the same prescription dosage. HRT is individualized and will be prescribed based on your health and your specific menopause symptoms. Your doctor can give you more information about the dosage potential if you are considering this therapy.
Before you begin HRT, you should speak with your doctor. Ask any questions that you may have and tell your doctor about your worries. Again, there are millions of women who deal with menopause every day who do not take hormones to help them with symptoms. It will come down to how severe your symptoms are and what your specific feelings are regarding this treatment. Understand that if you smoke, hormone replacement therapy can put you at a higher risk for developing heart disease and/or stroke. If you are planning to take HRT and smoke then you should quit smoking as soon as possible. If you have heart disease, have suffered a heart attack or had a stroke, you will need to discuss your options with your doctor.
If you are currently taking HRT and wish to stop, there are things that you will need to do. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones and stopping HRT suddenly could put you at a higher risk for developing this disease. Of course, if you are only taking hormone replacement to prevent osteoporosis then you should discuss alternative prevention with your doctor. There are other things that you can do to protect your bones even if you are not taking hormones. Ultimately the decision will come down to whether or not you feel safer taking hormones or not taking them. Again, discuss the possibility with your doctor and get as much information as you can before making this decision.