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Is Hormone Therapy Right For You?

Hormone Replacement Therapy

There was a time when hormone therapy was routinely used to treat menopausal symptoms so as to protect long-term health. Hormone replacement therapy includes medications containing hormones used to replace those which the body stops making following menopause. This used to be a standard treatment for women experiencing hot flashes & many other menopausal symptoms. It was also thought to have benefits preventing dementia & heart diseases.

Subsequent Turnaround

Hormone therapy usage abruptly changed when clinical trials found that treatment actually posed more health risks than benefits, particularly when given to old post-menopausal women. As concerns about these health hazards grew, prescriptions for hormone therapy began to dilute. As of now, hormone therapy is no longer recommended for prevention of diseases like memory loss or heart disease. However, further clinical trials prove that hormone therapy in fact is a good choice for certain women based upon their risk factors.

Benefits of Hormone Therapy

Benefits of hormone therapy however depend upon whether you are taking systemic hormone therapy or low-dose vaginal preparations.

  • Systemic Hormone TherapySystemic estrogen comes in pills, skin patches, gel creams or in sprays. These are the most effective treatment for relief of troublesome night sweats & hot flashes post menopause. Estrogen can also ease menopausal vaginal symptoms like itching, dryness, burning & discomfort during intercourse.
  • Low-Dose Vaginal PreparationsThese low-dose vaginal products of estrogen come in cream, tablet or ring form & can effectively treat many vaginal symptoms & quite a few urinary problems as well while minimizing absorption into body. However, low-dose vaginal preparations will not help with night sweats, hot flashes or provide any protection against osteoporosis.
  • Combination Therapy Estrogen is typically prescribed along with progesterone for women with intact uterus, as estrogen alone unbalanced by progesterone can stimulate growth of lining of uterus & thereby increasing risk of uterine cancer. However, women who have undergone hysterectomy do not need to take progesterone.

Risks Associated with Hormone Therapy

Estrogen alone or estrogen-progesterone combination can increase risk of serious conditions like –

  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Blood Clots
  • Breast Cancer

Trials evaluating estrogen alone among women having undergone hysterectomy posed no increased risk of heart disease or breast cancer; but risks of blood clots & stroke remained similar to combination therapy. Estrogen combined with progesterone will make breasts look dense on mammograms & which will make detecting breast cancer more difficult. Moreover, when continued for more than a few years, hormone therapy will increase risk of breast cancer. Risks of hormone therapy however vary depending upon whether estrogen is taken alone or with progesterone, along with present age of the patient & age at menopause. All of these risks must therefore be taken into account in deciding if hormone therapy is right for you.

When Should You Consider Hormone Therapy?

Systemic estrogen is still one of the most effective treatments for menopausal symptoms despite health risks as benefits far outweigh associated risks.

  • When you experience moderate to severe hot flashes including other menopausal symptoms.
  • Having lost bone mass.
  • Cannot tolerate or do not benefit from other treatments.
  • Stopped having periods before age 40 due to premature menopause.
  • Lost normal function of ovaries before age 40 due to premature ovarian insufficiency.

Typically, early menopause lowers risk of many types of breast cancer & therefore hormone therapy benefits usually outweigh risks. However, patient’s age, time & type of menopause play a significant role in risks which are associated with hormone therapy.

When to Avoid Hormone Therapy?

Women having present or past history of stroke, blood clots to lungs or legs, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer & breast cancer should avoid undergoing hormone therapy. Women undergoing hormone therapy should not also smoke. Women who are not bothered by menopause symptoms or have started menopause after age 45 do not usually need hormone therapy in order to stay healthy. Instead they can adopt strategies to reduce risks including lifestyle changes & medications other than hormone therapy for protection.

Reducing Risks Associated with Hormone Therapy

  • Find the best product & most suitable delivery method.
  • Minimize amount of medication intake.
  • Seek regular follow up with health care provider.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices including physical activity & exercise.

Last Word on Hormone Therapy in India

The bottom line is that hormone therapy is neither all good nor all bad as a treatment option. Therefore, consult a physician in order to determine if this is right treatment option for your menopausal symptoms. Recommendations may also however change as researchers learn more about menopausal treatments & hormone therapy. So, review treatment options regularly & keep the conversation going throughout the menopausal years. IndianMedTrip is one of the fastest growing medical tourism companies in South Asia providing affordable healthcare solutions including hormone therapy for people from all around the world. They are associated with top doctors & best hospital facilities in the country so as to give excellent medical solutions money can buy.

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