Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Do Hormones Work for Menopause?
Know your risk factors.If you smoke (or even if you did for a long stretch of time but quit), or have a strong family history of breast cancer or blood clots, you may want to steer clear of HT. But if you had breast cancer or blood clots, thenabsolutelyavoid it.
Consider quality of life."When a woman won't take HT because she's afraid of breast cancer, I say, 'If you're miserable, feeling better may be worth the small chance,'" says Dr. Deighan. "But if you don't have symptoms, you shouldn't go on HT to protect your bones or anything else."
Take the smallest dose for the shortest amount of time.This keeps the risks low. "For many women, a year or two on HT can get them through the worst of the hot flashes—but taking the meds longer isn't unusual," says Dr. Deighan. "I tend to reevaluate my patients every year; if the hot flashes return, they can go back on HT. I like to try to taper women off at five years."
Get the right meds.HT is a combo of estrogen and progestin, but if you've had a hysterectomy, skip the progestin. "It protects against uterine cancer, so if you don't have a uterus, you don't need it," says Dr. Deighan. "Women on estrogen alone may not have higher breast cancer odds." Know, too, that bioidentical hormones carry the same risks as standard HT, and they're not regulated as closely by the FDA.
Video: 7 Keys to Balance Hormones & Manage Menopause
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