Hormone Therapy During Menopause Considered Controversial

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Hormone therapy is often used by women during menopause to replace the hormones lost by their body during the time period of menopause. However, hormone therapy is not without its controversies. Some fear that hormone therapy during menopause may increase the risk of stroke.

The 2008 study “Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and Strokes” by Francine Grodstein et al. seeks to explore the possible link between hormone therapy during menopause and strokes. The Women's Health Initiate reported an elevated risk of stroke by as much as 30% to 40% for those given the hormones estrogen combined with progesterone or the hormone estrogen alone. The Nurses Health Study reported a 35% increase in strokes for women using hormone therapy during menopause.

Grodstein et al.'s 2008 findings replicate the 2008 Women's Health Initiate's. Both studies found that there was a 30% to 40% increased risk of stroke for menopause women currently taking the hormone estrogen or the hormone estrogen combined with progesterone. Also, both studies agreed that there was no difference whether someone had ingested hormones during the start of menopause or towards the end of menopause in their rate of stroke. Since women who are at the start of menopause, and therefore young, run a very low risk for stroke, so they should not worry so much about taking hormones.

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Grodstein et al.'s study found independently of the Women's Health Initiate that what mattered most was the hormone dosage that one took. At the lowest estrogen dose, 0.3 miligrams of the hormone estrogen, no great risk for stroke was posed for women suffering hormone depletion from menopause. Only 9 women in the study died from stroke at this dose, which is 50% less than women who had not taken hormone therapy. The implications of this are interesting to ponder. Conversely, there was an increased risk for stroke with the increasing use of the hormone estrogen by women suffering from menopause. However, the study did find one concrete benefit to taking hormones: the earlier one starts hormone therapy, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Doctors have determined hormone therapy to be the most effective treatment for menopause and menopause symptoms. However, it is important to take the results of studies like these into account before proceeding with hormone therapy. It is always important for women undergoing menopause to evaluate their risk for stroke against the benefits of hormone therapy.