Deciding whether or not to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat menopausal symptoms is a complicated matter for many women. On one hand, hundreds of women have received fast relief for menopausal distresses such as hot flashes and night sweats thanks to HRT. Yet on the other hand, recent studies have suggested that long-term exposure to HRT can increase a woman's risk for serious health conditions like breast cancer, heart attack, or stroke. Perhaps the most important thing a woman can do is to educate herself about the dangers of HRT and its potential benefits in order to make an informed decision. Read on to learn more.
During menopause, the female body begins to slow production of essential hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone to prepare for the end of fertility. Diminished production of these hormones can cause a range of physical and emotional side effects in women, from hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and depression.
HRT solves the problem of diminished hormone production by introducing synthetic hormones into the body. Popular treatments for women include estrogen-only HRT (for women who've had a hysterectomy) or estrogen plus progestin. HRT treatments come in the form of pills, patches, rings, and creams. Read on to learn more about the potential health risks of HRT.
Proceed with Caution
While many women have a positive experience with HRT, a long list of side effects has been linked with HRT treatments. Some of these side effects include:
- Cramped or bloated stomach
- Fluid retention
- Breast tenderness
- Eye irritation
In addition to these short-term side effects, most experts advise against long-term usage of HRT treatments (5-7 years) and recommend taking the lowest possible dosage of HRT. Recent studies have suggested that, when taken long-term, foreign estrogens can increase a woman's risk of blood clots, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
You should always consult with a healthcare professional before deciding on a treatment for menopause. Your doctor will give you a detailed overview of the available treatments and their possible risks and side effects. Other popular treatment options for menopause include making simple lifestyle changes, using alternative medicines, or taking bioidentical hormones. Click on the following link to learn more about the different alternatives to HRT.