Hormone Therapy (HT)
Why It Is Used
The estrogen in hormone therapy is used by some postmenopausal women to increase estrogen levels. This helps prevent Reference osteoporosis Opens New Window and perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep problems.
But HT slightly increases risks of some serious health problems. In a small number of women, HT may increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or dementia. In women who are 10 or more years past menopause, using HT slightly raises the risk of heart disease.Reference 2
Because of the risks of HT, many experts recommend that HT be used for:
- Short-term treatment of menopause symptoms. HT effectively relieves menopause symptoms for most women. Women who decide that HT benefits outweigh their risks are advised to use the lowest effective dose for as short a time as possible.Reference 2 For most women, menopause symptoms naturally improve within a few years' time, making long-term symptom treatment unnecessary.
- Osteoporosis prevention and treatment, in select cases. Most experts recommend that long-term HT only be considered for women with a high osteoporosis risk. In this case, estrogen's bone-protecting benefit may outweigh the risks of taking HT. Women are now encouraged to consider all possible osteoporosis treatments and to compare their risks and benefits.
Who should not use HT
You should not use HT if you:
- Could be pregnant.
- Have a personal history of Reference breast cancer Opens New Window or Reference ovarian cancer Opens New Window.
- Have a personal history of certain endometrial cancers.
- Have a personal history of Reference pulmonary embolism Opens New Window, Reference deep vein thrombosis Opens New Window, Reference heart attack Opens New Window, or Reference stroke Opens New Window.Reference 1
- Have vaginal bleeding from an unknown cause.
- Have active liver disease. You may be able to use an alternative to oral estrogen that bypasses the liver, such as estrogen delivered from a skin patch (transdermal) or vaginal cream.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: August 8, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine