Hormone therapy can effectively treat menopausal symptoms in women, but has a reputation for raising your risk of certain conditions, including blood clots and breast cancer.
In many women, however, these small risks are nothing compared to the serious relief experienced from hormone therapy when it comes to symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood and sleep disturbances. Hormone therapy can also offset bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. These symptoms arise due to the decrease in estrogen your body produces as you move through perimenopause and menopause.
Although research that was halted in the early 2000s showed possible health complications associated with the therapy, hormone therapy is considered safe when used in the lowest possible effective doses for the shortest possible period of time.
Dr. Jones carefully reviews your medical history and symptoms to determine if hormone therapy is right for you. And, if he does prescribe it, be confident that your risk of complications is minimal.
About hormone therapy
Hormone replacement therapy can be delivered systemically or in low-dose vaginal products. With systemic therapy, you receive a pill, skin patch, gel, or pellets under the skin to get a low, constant dose of estrogen to combat the uncomfortable and life-disrupting effects of menopause.
Low-dose vaginal products are administered via a cream, tablet, or ring to combat vaginal symptoms and some urinary issues, with minimal absorption by your body. Low-dose options are not effective in treating hot flashes or in protecting you against osteoporosis.
Risks of hormone therapy
Hormone therapy administered as a combination estrogen-progestin pill has been researched and shown to increase your risk of conditions, including heart disease, blood clots, breast cancer, and stroke. More recent studies show that these risks are not absolute and vary according to your age of starting therapy. For example, if you begin hormone therapy more than 10-20 years from the onset of menopause or when 60 or older, you’re at greater risk of these conditions.
Hormone therapy risk level also varies according to whether you receive estrogen with or without progestin.
Your health history also determines whether or not hormone therapy is a safe treatment for you. If you have existing cardiovascular disease, previous cancer diagnoses, or a family medical history of these conditions, the risks associated with hormone therapy rise.
Dr. Jones gets to know your health and family medical history thoroughly before suggesting hormone therapy as a viable option to treat your menopause symptoms. Any history of blood clots in the legs or lungs, stroke, liver disease, or unexplained vaginal bleeding means you should not take hormone therapy.
Early menopause and hormone therapy
If you go into menopause early, particularly due to surgical removal of the ovaries, but don’t start estrogen therapy until after age 45, you end up with a higher risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and early death. Taken early on, right after you experience menopause, is protective and the therapy usually outweighs any potential risks.
Alternatives to hormone therapy
If you don’t have severe symptoms that severely affect your quality of life, hormone therapy may not be necessary. Lifestyle changes can help manage menopause if you choose not to, or can’t, take hormone therapy. Dr. Jones can recommend dietary changes, breathing techniques, and vaginal moisturizers that can offer relief.
Hormone therapy can be incredibly helpful to women going through menopause and poses minimal risks when administered with the careful supervision of Dr. Jones. To find out more details about your options for menopausal maintenance and hormone therapy, call the office, or schedule an online consultation.