What Is Hormone Therapy?
There are many types of hormone therapy to treat your menopause symptoms. These include pills, patches, implants, rings, and vaginal creams. These treatments work by replacing the hormones estrogen and progesterone that your body stops making during perimenopause and menopause. Some women take both hormones for therapy hormone therapy (HT). Others take estrogen only estrogen therapy (ET).
POSSIBLE BENEFITS OF HORMONE THERAPY
- fewer hot flashes and other menopause symptoms
- reduced vaginal dryness, thinning of vaginal tissue/painful intercourse
- reduces risk of colon cancer
- reduced risk of osteoporosis (for as long as taken)
- reduced risk of adult-onset diabetes
- reduced sleep problems
- reduces risk of recurrent urinary tract infections
- may reduce sudden urge to urinate
- reduces pain in arthritic joints
POSSIBLE RISKS OF HORMONE THERAPY
- increased risk for blood clots (HT & ET)
- increased risk for invasive breast cancer (HT if used more than 35 years; ET if used more than 1015 years)
- increased risk for uterine cancer
- increases risk for gall bladder disease
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF HORMONE THERAPY
- breast tenderness
- increased stress incontinence
- vaginal bleeding
These side effects usually clear up after about three months.
If you're considering hormone therapy, discuss your personal risks and family medical history with your health care provider. Your provider can help you weigh the possible benefits against the risks. To relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of hormone therapy, hormones should be used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest period of time.
HT is not recommended to treat or prevent heart disease. Use of HT to treat other symptoms within 10 years of menopause does not seem to increase risk of heart disease. Discuss your heart health history as well as your family's when you discuss HT with your health care provider.