Question: I am in my fifties and would like to know the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy. How should I take them and how safe are they? What do you think of vaginal oestrogen creams?
I personally recommend HRT to all my patients, unless there are specific reasons that they should not take hormones. Generally speaking, HRT has E’en a major advance in the health of women, who now outlive men by an average of more than seven years.
The points for and against hormone replacement therapy (HRT) sre outlined as simply as possible in the following points.
• Prevents osteoporosis (thinning of bones) and fracture.
• Slows the development of wrinkles and keeps the skin moist and more elastic.
• Lubricates the vagina and enhances sexual pleasure.
• Slows the sagging of breasts by maintaining breast tissue.
• Relieves the hot flushes, depression, bloating and othei symptoms of menopause.
• Regulates irregular periods to make them milder and less painful.
• Menstrual periods may restart, or continue, for a year after HRT
• May cause breast tenderness if dosage too high.
• Nausea and belly cramps may occur.
• Migraines may be aggravated.
Except under special circumstances, HRT should not be used in women who have had:
• Cancer of the breast, uterus or cervix.
• Hormonal mastitis (breast pain).
• Blood clots (thromboses), liver disease or strokes.
Question: Why can’t all women who have troubles with the menopause have hormone replacement therapy with oestrogen? Why can’t they stay on treatment until they are 60, 70 or indefinitely?
The vast majority of women can take hormone replacement therapy with both an oestrogen and progestogen to overcome their problems. It is necessary to take both hormones to prevent some of the long-term complications of constant oestrogen use. Women who have had a hysterectomy need only take oestrogen.
There are a small number of women who should not use hormone replacement therapy, including those who have had breast or gynaecological cancer, blood clots or liver disease.
Most GPs are sympathetic to these women, who may suffer flooding, cramps, depression, flushes, headaches, irritability etc. etc. etc.!!!
There are a number of different types of oestrogen, and vaning dosage regimes, and it sometimes takes a little trial and error to get the dosage just right for an individual woman. Oestrogens also protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia, skin ageing and improve the libido (sex drive) of older women.
There is a great deal of controversy about how long this treatment should continue, but there is no reason why they should not be continued beyond 70 years of age. Oestrogens are not a long term ‘youth pill’, but cm certainly help women through a difficult period in their lives and prevent l lot of the complications of ageing.