Menopause Hormone Replacement Therapy (Pros and Cons)

Menopause Hormone Replacement Therapy

by Laura Ramirez on January 24, 2011

For menopause, hormone replacement therapy is an option that used to be routinely recommended to manage some of its symptoms. But since 2002, there’s been a huge change in attitude toward hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because of clinical findings pointing out certain health hazards. Reports list some of HRT’s more alarming risks as increased possibilities of getting certain types of cancer (uterine, cervical, breast), blood clots, stroke, and heart ailments.

On the other hand, those who choose menopause hormone replacement therapy espouse its benefits, a major one being protection from osteoporosis and other bone diseases. So is HRT right for you? To weigh its risks against its benefits, talk it over thoroughly with your doctor, and read up on the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy.

The Pros of Hormone Replacement Therapy

  1. It can prevent osteoporosis and bone loss.

During menopause, your bones need extra protection from fractures and to reduce the possibility of osteoporosis. Menopause hormone replacement therapy addresses this by using a synthetic version of progesterone to improve bone density in the hips, arms, and spine. Findings reveal that as long as a woman is on this particular type of HRT medication, she can cut the risk of fractures significantly. However, once she stops medication, HRT has no long-term benefits as far as bone loss and osteoporosis protection is concerned.

  1. It can relieve common menopause symptoms.

Relieving menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweating, irritability and mood swings and others, is the primary reason for considering menopause hormone replacement therapy. HRT makes use of synthetic estrogen and progesterone to alleviate these symptoms by allowing women to gradually adjust to fluctuating hormones. In a period of one to around five years, menopausal women can rely on HRT to replace the estrogen that their ovaries have stopped producing so they’ll feel less of the symptoms.

  1. It can lower the risk of vision loss or macular degeneration during menopause.

One of menopause hormonal replacement therapy’s more startling benefits is its help in keeping macular eye degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and other eye diseases at bay. Clinical studies show that patients on HRT who are 65 years old and over have lower prevalence of cortical cataract as compared to those who aren’t on it. Another study reveals the use of postmenopausal estrogen therapy to be beneficial in reducing macular eye degeneration in postmenopausal women in comparison to non-users of this therapy.

The Cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy

  1. It can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Long term prescription of synthetic progesterone has been found to up the risk of getting cancer of the uterus, breast, cervix, and ovaries, especially if the patient has a family history with these types of gynecological cancer. Uterine cancer is extra risky during non-surgical menopause (hysterectomy, oophorectomy, or other medical procedures that cause menopause to occur). Menopause hormone replacement therapy sometimes makes use of estrogen replacement pills or patches that can cause cancer of the uterine lining. The sad thing is, the risk remains even after the patient has discontinued use of this particular type of HRT. Further studies show a significant number of breast cancer survivors who took menopause hormone replacement therapy to have thrice as many breast cancer recurrences compared to those who didn’t have HRT.

  1. It can cause blood clotting.

Menopause hormone replacement therapy has been linked to increased risk of venous thromboembolism, or fatal blood clotting. This is especially true of oral HRT. The risk is further upped for overweight menopausal women who take HRT and are predisposed to blood clots. A report published on the British Medical Journal website states that oral HRT doubles the risks of blood clotting especially in the first year of treatment, while HRT skin patches reduces them. This could be a direct result of how HRT estrogen is absorbed by the body. Oral HRT has to go through the digestive system and affects the liver, which could in turn give way to clotting.

  1. It can up the chances of strokes.

Lower dosages of estrogen during menopause hormone replacement therapy, especially among younger women, don’t post too big a risk. But overall, HRT ups the chances of stroke and other heart diseases.  Synthetic estrogen also slightly increases the chances of clotting abnormalities and strokes in medium to high dosages. It seems the lower the dose and duration of HRT, the lesser the chances of getting a stroke.

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