Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life that affects her between 45 to 55 years of age, when her menstrual period ends as the ovaries stop producing eggs. During pre-menopausal period, woman’s menstrual period becomes irregular and many women face problems like night sweat, vaginal dryness and hot flashes, mood swings, decreased sexual desire and sleep disorder.
What Is Post-Menopausal Hormone Therapy?
The hormone therapy is a standard treatment that is given to women for relieving them from the bothersome symptoms of menopause. Hormone therapy is the medication that contains female hormones estrogen and progestin to replace the hormones that body stops making after menopause. Hormone therapy is given in the form of pills, vaginal cream, patch, injection, ring or tablet.
Risks Associated With Hormone Therapy
Though hormone therapy gives relief to women from postmenopausal symptoms, but there are possible risks associated with this therapy. Hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke and heart diseases. It has long been observed that taking estrogen many times increases the risk of blood clots. The risk is even higher in women who take birth control pills because birth control pill contains high doses of estrogen. If you smoke, you are at a greater risk.
Long time estrogen therapy increases the risk of breast cancer to some extent. Guidelines related to use of hormone therapy considers it safe, if taken up to 5 years. Risk of endometrial or uterine cancer is quite higher in women who take only estrogen therapy. Those who take progesterone along with estrogen have lesser chances of getting cancer. Women with no uterus also have no chances of developing this cancer. The Women undergoing hormone therapy for 10 years or more also have the risk of developing gallstone, heart disease, and stroke.
Before taking hormone therapy you should consult with your doctor whether hormone therapy is right for you or not. Doctor should go through entire medical history of the patient before prescribing hormone therapy. Experts recommend short-term (3-4 years) hormone therapy at lowest possible dose as safe for some women.
Benefits Of Hormone Therapy
Long–term hormone therapy is not recommended by experts today for treating post-menopausal symptoms, but short term hormone therapy can give considerable relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disorder, anxiety and vaginal dryness. The therapy can also give protection against certain conditions like:
Studies have revealed that bone loss usually occurs to women after menopause because women’s bodies produce less estrogen after menopause, which eventually affects bone strength. Bone loss can be decreased with hormone therapy. Research also suggests that hormone therapy can reduce the chances of colorectal cancer.
Research further suggests that estrogen can benefit younger postmenopausal women and decrease the risk of heart disease. Some studies also says that hormone therapy can benefit urinary incontinence, dementia and Alzheimer’s’ disease but there is no clear evidence to support the study.
Just like other medicine, hormone therapy may have some side effects. Possible side effects include breast soreness, headaches, nausea, bloating and mood swings. Expert suggests that women should take hormone therapy for shorter period and eventually lower the dose like skipping one pill weekly. Women with past history of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clot should avoid hormone therapy and look for alternative treatments.