Menopause Treatments (cont.)

Benefits and Risks of Hormone Therapy

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, hormone therapy gives women the best relief of menopausal symptoms. However, there are risks. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits to decide what the best treatment is for you.

Benefits of hormone therapy:

  • reduce hot flashes
  • treat vaginal dryness
  • slow bone loss
  • decrease mood swings and depression

DO NOT use hormone therapy to prevent heart attacks, strokes, memory loss or Alzheimer's disease. Also know that there also are other medicines that can help your bones.

Risks of hormone therapy: increased risk of

  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • breast cancer
  • gall bladder disease

For a woman with a uterus, taking estrogen alone, without progesterone, increases her chance of getting endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus. Adding progesterone to the hormone therapy lowers this risk. For women who've had a hysterectomy, taking estrogen alone could raise the risk of blood clots and stroke.

Hormone therapy also may cause these side effects:

  • bleeding
  • bloating
  • breast tenderness or enlargement
  • headaches
  • mood changes
  • nausea

Who should NOT take hormone therapy for menopause:
Women who

We know that hormone therapy may be a way to get over the symptoms of menopause if taken for only a short time and in the smallest amount. Hormones do NOT help prevent heart or bone disease, stroke, memory loss or Alzheimer's disease. If you decide to use hormones, use them at the lowest dose that helps and for the shortest time needed. Check with your doctor every year to see if you still need them. Because there are both benefits and risks linked to taking them, every woman should think about these in regard to her own health and discuss these issues with her doctor. We are still trying to learn more about the long- and short-term effects of hormone therapies on women's health. For more information on the risks and benefits of hormone therapy, go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/index.htm.


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