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Experts do agree: hormone therapy for treatment of symptoms at menopause gets thumbs up

by Margery Gass | Sep 04, 2012
It’s been 10 years since research put the brakes on the combination hormone therapy segment of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study because the risks looked worse than the benefits. After that, many women and clinicians abandoned hormone therapy completely. NAMS and 14 other top medical organizations came together to cut through the confusion and tell women and their clinicians that hormone therapy is still an acceptable treatment—and a relatively safe one—for menopause symptoms at the time of menopause. It just should not be used indefinitely for the purpose of preventing chronic diseases.

These are the major points the experts do agree on:

  • Hormone therapy is okay for relatively young (up to age 59 or within 10 years of menopause) and healthy women who are bothered by moderate to severe menopause symptoms. You and your clinician need to weigh your individual risks and benefits.
  • If you still have a uterus, you need to take progesterone or a similar product along with estrogen to prevent cancer of the uterus. If you no longer have a uterus, you can take estrogen alone. If you are taking a low-dose vaginal form of estrogen, you will probably not need to take progesterone, but be sure to report any bleeding.
  • Both estrogen alone and combination therapy increase the risk of blood clots and stroke, but the risk is rare in women ages 50-59.
  • The risk of breast cancer goes up a small amount with 3-5 years of combination estrogen/progesterone therapy and decreases after hormone therapy is stopped.
  • If vaginal dryness or discomfort with intercourse is your only symptom and lubricants do not solve the problem, then the best treatment for you may be low-dose vaginal estrogen, but check with your provider.


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