HRT for Menopause Symptoms – Should You Use It or Not?

by Laura Ramirez on November 7, 2011

Want to know if it’s a good idea to use HRT for menopause symptoms? First let’s talk a bit about menopause and dispel some myths. Contrary to what the jokes about menopause would have you believe, menopause is a normal part of aging and is not a disease. A women starts to enter menopause as her ovaries stop producing as much progesterone and estrogen.

Estrogen is the hormone that initiates breast and uterine development and releases an egg as part of a women’s monthly cycle. Estrogen is associated with many physical health factors such as strong bones, healthy heart, efficient metabolism, healthy hair and unwrinkled skin and it is also associated with mental health: in terms of mood, cognition and memory.  Together with progesterone, these hormones make it possible for women to get pregnant and carry a baby to term during the fertile years.

In response to a question posted on about the pros and cons of using HRT for menopause symptoms, Debbie Jackson, PhD responded:

Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) refers to the use of estrogen or estrogen in combination with progesterone (or a synthesis version of progesterone called progestin) to reduce the symptoms associated with menopause. The most comprehensive studies conducted on HRT were done by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Women’s Health Initiative (NLBI) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), both part of the Institutes of Health.

The bottom line from all the research conducted and reported to date is 1. Talk openly with your doctor; 2. If you use HRT do so at the lowest dose that relieves symptoms and for the shortest time period; and 3. Avoid HRT if you have a history of cancer.

So what did the research show? Estrogen plus progestin used for women who still had their uterus study was stopped in 2002 when the research indicated an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots and urinary incontinence. Of interest, the risk of colorectal cancer went down, as did hip fractures.

hrt for menopause symptoms

HRT for menopause symptoms should be used only during the transition for safety and freedom from concerns about their link to certain cancers.

Although the results of the 2002 study cited above rocked the world and meant a large percentage of women stopped taking HRT, a subsequent study showed that the results weren’t as conclusive as they originally seemed due to the advanced age of many of the women studied. Using HRT to help get through the more debilitating initial symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, depression, weight gain etc, may not put women at risk for cancer as long as long as they don’t continue to take hormones indefinitely. The key may be just using them during the transition. For most women, this may be anywhere from 2-5 years.

Another option is to use plant-based hormones that can be found in over the counter creams such as Source Naturals Phyto-Estrogen Cream, 4 oz

How do you feel about using HRT for menopause symptoms? Are you using it or have you tried and stopped? Please leave your comments and tips below.

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