Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a safe and effective treatment for menopause symptoms in healthy women under 60 years, according to the latest international guidelines.
This will surprise many women who were turned off HRT after research in 2002 raised serious safety concerns. However, most experts now feel that the risks were greatly exaggerated and do not apply to the typical women who take HRT in Australia.
HRT is usually prescribed for symptoms due to hormonal changes that occur with menopause (the last period). It is effective in relieving hot flushes, night sweats, disturbed sleep, vaginal dryness, urinary symptoms and some sexual problems. HRT is taken short term, for 1-3 years in most cases.
Expert opinion on HRT keeps changing. No wonder women are confused!
HRT also keeps the bones strong. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) and prevents 1 in 3 fractures. It also lowers the risk of bowel and uterine cancer.
Most women take ‘combined’ HRT (oestrogen + progestogen). Those who have had a hysterectomy require oestrogen only.
What are the risks?
The risks from HRT in healthy women aged 50-59 years are now believed to be much less than previously thought. In this age group:
• Heart disease. HRT does not increase the risk of heart disease in this age group and may even decrease the risk, especially for women taking oestrogen only.
• Stroke. HRT does not appear to significantly increase the risk of stroke.
• Thrombosis (blood clotting). HRT doubles the risk of thrombosis. However, as thrombosis is a rare event under the age of 60, the actual risk is very low.
• Breast cancer. HRT does not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer in the first 5 years of use.
For more information, www.managingmenopause.org.au, www.imsociety.org.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.Source: Spring 2008 Edition | Page 3
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