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Is HRT the Best Treatment for Menopause Symptoms?

Is HRT the Best Treatment for Menopause Symptoms?1

Menopause is the time in a woman's life, usually in her 40s or 50s, when she makes the transition from being capable of reproduction to being infertile. This change is instigated by fluctuating levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, which circulate around the body via the blood stream.

There are a number of treatments available for menopause and its uncomfortable symptoms. The most talked about and controversial treatment for menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Keep reading to find out more about HRT.

What Is HRT?

HRT involves the introduction of external hormones into the body, and may be administered through gels, patches, pills, or injections. The hormones supplement the body's level of natural hormones, and stabilize any imbalance that the body might be experiencing. By balancing out the body's fluctuating hormones, HRT prevents the appearance of any of the symptoms usually associated with menopause.

Advantages and Disadvantages of HRT

HRT can be an effective method of treating menopause as it directly treats hormonal imbalance, the root of the menopausal problem, and it can relieve menopausal symptoms relatively quickly. However, there are a number of risks and disadvantages that have been associated with HRT. These include:

Is HRT the Best Treatment for Menopause Symptoms?2
  • Tender breasts
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Heavier periods

HRT can also increase the risk of:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Strokes
  • Blood Clots
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

HRT: The Optimum Menopausal Treatment?

Is HRT the Best Treatment for Menopause Symptoms?3

Until 2002, HRT was one of the most popular and convenient ways to treat menopausal symptoms and other hormone imbalances. Yet a landmark study by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) found that introducing foreign hormones into a woman's body carries a certain degree of risks and can cause many side effects.

Prior to 2002, little was known about these possible side effects and the dangers of HRT. But a large study showed a connection between HRT usage and breast cancer, heart attacks, and stroke. For this reason, it has been recommended that women who decide to use HRT do so for only a short time and at the lowest possible dosage in order to reduce the risks associated with this treatment.

Recommendation

There are a number of risks associated with HRT, and beyond the possible risks, HRT can also be financially draining. Luckily, there are various other treatments that can be used to combat unwanted menopausal symptoms.

Click on the following link for more information on less controversial menopause treatments, such as lifestyle changes and herbal remedies.

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Sources:
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
  • Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.