Is HRT a Safe Treatment for Menopause?

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

HRT used to be one of the most highly recommended treatments for menopausal women

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) used to be one of the most highly recommended treatments for women going through menopause. After a shocking study done in 2002 by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) unearthed the many health risks that go hand in hand with HRT, it has become the most controversial menopausal treatment. Although there are many health risks linked to HRT, women who have undergone the treatment claim that the increase in their quality of life was worth the risks. So, how do you know if HRT is worth the risk for you?

History of HRT

In 1941, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of HRT to help women treat their menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.

In the following decades, before 2002, HRT had the reputation of helping women transition more comfortably from one part of their life to another. Estrogen (either alone or mixed with progestin) was given to aging women and was known to help combat many signs of aging including menopause, osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Although drug companies put an extraordinary amount of time and money into the advertisement of HRT, it did have its share of ups and downs throughout the 60 years it was FDA-approved; however, none of these risks were ever seriously discussed until the WHI study in 2002.

Risks from HRT

The risks related to HRT are: heart disease, breast cancer, and strokes

In the largest clinical trial to date that studied the risks involved with an estrogen and progesterone HRT, an alarming number of serious health risks were found. These risks include higher rates of heart disease, breast cancer, strokes, blood clots, and abnormal mammograms. These risks increase the longer a woman stays on HRT.

Who Should Consider HRT?

Although many studies have shown the serious risks HRT poses to menopausal women, some may still benefit from short-term HRT. Women who are experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes, women who have lost significant bone mass, and cannot tolerate other treatments may wish to consider short-term HRT . For these specific groups of women, the benefits could outweigh the risks.

For young women who reach menopause early, HRT can provide protective benefits to their health and come with a set of risks different than those for women in their 50s who are experiencing menopause. If you are considering HRT as a treatment for your menopause, make sure to consult your doctor to decide if it is the best treatment plan for you.

As important as it is to know whether or not HRT is for you, there are many other things to consider while going through menopause. Click on the link below if you want to learn more about HRT.

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