Questions Answered- Hormone Replacement Therapy

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What is the controversy surrounding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

For years, women going through menopause have been prescribed hormones to reduce hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. In many cases women continued to take the hormone supplements for the rest of their lives in the belief they also reduced the risk of heart disease. A recent large scale study (11,000 plus women) showed dangerous side effects for a significant percentage of the women in the study. These side effects included risks for stroke, heart disease and breast cancer.

What are the new recommendations arising from the study?

  1. Women should be more careful in embarking on the prolonged use of HRT
  2. Short term use of HRT for symptomatic relief of hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and vaginal dryness may be more appropriate
  3. Individual approach with different hormones doses, and types depending on a woman's age, weight, sensitivity, personal and family medical history should be considered
  4. Preventative measures of non-pharmaceutical approaches such as dietary changes, exercise, meditation, natural medicine, herbs and use of supplements may also be indicated.

Are there other treatments for hot flashes and menopausal symptoms other than hormone replacement therapy?

The evaluation and treatment of perimenopause and menopausal symptoms are at the heart of naturopathic medicine. We are the only physicians trained in the art and science of medicine involving prescription medications and hormones as well as natural medicine, herbs, supplements, lifestyle and nutritional counseling. If, as a woman you desire and integrated or natural approach to your health concerns please call our office today. We look forward to serving you.

As an expert in natural medicine, and because so many women are confused about this issue, we have decided to provide a brief summary of the Women's Health Initiative (WIH) research study for women who are interested in more of the study details. Keep in mind, the clinical implications are complex, and therefore should be evaluated on an individual basis with each woman and her physician.

Specific study findings using both oral conjugated equine estrogens (.625 mg/day CEE) known as Premarin and oral medroxyprogesterone acetate (2.5mg/day MPA) known as Provera compared to a placebo group over an average period of 5.2 years are:

  • A 41% increase in strokes
  • A 29% increase in heart attacks
  • Over 100% increase in venous thromboembolism (blood clots)
  • A 22% increase in total cardiovascular disease
  • A 26% increase in breast cancer
  • A 37% reduction in colorectal cancer
  • A 30% reductions in hip fractures
  • A 24% reduction in total fractures
  • No difference in total mortality

If you would like a more detailed report of the study, please contact our office at (541) 383-3424.