Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the hormones a woman’s body stops making due to menopause (the last menstrual period, most often between 45 to 55 years of age). HRT is taken short term, usually up to five years. Here are up-to-date facts on commonly held myths.

* Myth (1) – All good or all bad

It is neither. Deciding to start HRT involves weighing up the benefits (good) and risks (bad) for you. The benefits include reducing menopause symptoms such as:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness, itching, burning
  • Intercourse discomfort

It is also good for keeping bones strong (preventing osteoporosis). In contrast, there are risk factors including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer.

* Myth (2) – All women are the same

Each woman is different in terms of – current age, menopause starting age, symptoms, family medical history, current health and more.

As a result, the benefits and risks are different for each woman and the benefits may outweigh the risks for you. For example, if you don’t have a risk factor and experience severe menopause symptoms, you may decide to start HRT. On the other hand, having breast cancer may cause you to avoid HRT.

* Myth (3) – HRT is all the same

Generally it’s recommended to take the lowest amount of HRT for the shortest time. However different types of HRT can achieve this.

Systemic (whole body) treatments – pill, skin patch and more – are either combined hormone therapy, oestrogen and progesterone, or oestrogen-only.

Progesterone is taken to avoid the oestrogen overstimulating the lining of the uterus. However, if you’ve had a hysterectomy, just oestrogen-only treatment may be needed. For vagina-only symptoms, vaginal products are often best.

For more information, speak to your doctor and visit www.mayoclinic.com

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