By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
I am 52 years old and dont know if I should take Estrogen Replacement Therapy or not. There seems to be so much controversy about this topic. Meanwhile, I feel tired, depressed, and I’m gaining weight.
Considering that most women today live an average of 81 years, up to one-third of their lives can be spent in the post-menopausal period. So when it comes to managing menopause symptoms, its comforting to know you do have choices.
To help you handle the short-term and long-term changes, your clinician may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT replaces the estrogen that decreases after menopause. It also reduces the number and severity of hot flashes, cuts down the risk of heart disease and prevents osteoporosis. Many women ask if they will get their period again. The answer depends on what kind of hormone replacement therapy your health care practitioner prescribes. About 30 percent of women may have some bleeding during the three months after starting HRT, although, many stop bleeding a shortly thereafter. Ultimately, this is only a short-term side effect and well worth the long-term benefits.
What are the risks associated with HRT?
All treatments – even those available without a prescription – have potential risks. In some studies, HRT has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. However, the North American Menopause Society believes that there are not enough data for it to make a more definitive statement about such a risk. In the meantime some epidemiologists believe that the benefits of HRT may outweigh the risks for those women who are at high risk for heart disease or osteoporosis. Discuss the pros and cons of HRT with your clinician, and together make a decision about what would be right for you.
Are there any good alternatives to HRT?
Many women ask what other therapies can be used besides HRT? There is evidence that some supplements, such as soy, contain phytoestrogens that may increase estrogen levels. Other products, including vitamin E and vitamin B complex and certain herbs, such as black co hash, appear to help some women with hot flashes and other changes. However these supplements have not been studied completely. And though they may appear to help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause, these supplements are not proven to help prevent bone loss or improve the health of your heart. For many women menopause marks the beginning of the best years of their lives. While hormonal changes that come with menopause may affect you there are other things you can do to help yourself.
This article was originally published July 23, 2001 in The St. Tammany News.
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