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Hormone Therapy

Dr. Kiran Mehndiratta helps you make an Informed Decision

Most women, as they reach menopause in their 40s and 50s, are confronted with a decision about whether to take hormone therapy or not. Making an informed decision about hormone therapy can be difficult and complex. This is because there may be benefits, but also risks to taking drug treatment and these must be weighed carefully. It is important for a woman to understand what is currently known about hormone therapy and what is not yet known and apply this information to her own situation. To make an informed decision, women also need to consider what alternatives are available to meet their health needs.

What is Hormone Therapy?

Hormone therapy (HT), also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or ovarian hormone therapy (OHT), refers to the use of estrogen and progesterone, often prescribed to supplement the declining levels of these hormones which occur during menopause. Using the term "hormone replacement therapy" implies that menopause is a disease of hormone deficiency and not a normal process as we know it to be. Therefore, we have chosen to use the term "hormone therapy."

Making an informed decision about HT:

  • Keep track of your symptoms of menopause. Are they severe enough to affect your sleep and general quality of life? Have you tried other, non-hormonal ways to deal with them?

  • Are there reasons for you not to take HT?

  • Identify the benefits you might gain from HT.

  • Based on what you know, assess how important each of these benefits and risks are to you personally:

  • Reducing risk of osteoporosis

  • Relief from menopausal symptoms

  • Extra risk of breast cancer

  • Side effects

  • Review any other concerns you may have. Do you mind taking medications on a long-term basis? Do you worry about some diseases or possible effects more than others?

  • Evaluate what you are doing and willing to do to reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and breast cancer for example:

  • A healthy diet

  • Do not smoke or willing to quit

  • Regular exercise

  •  Are there other questions that need answering before you decide? If so, how can you get that information?

  • Decide whether you will take hormones, put off the decision until you have more information or do not wish to take hormones. The most important thing is to feel comfortable with your decision. Recognize that if your situation changes or as further research becomes available, you may reconsider your decision.

Growing Older, Growing Wiser:

Confronting a decision about hormone therapy is an important opportunity to take stock, gain new insights and knowledge about ourselves as we age.

We benefit from asking:

  • What am I currently doing in my daily life to promote physical and emotional wellbeing?

  •  Are there changes I am willing and able to make?

  •  If so, how can I realistically achieve these?

Many women in their menopausal years may be working both within and outside the home, dealing with a wide range of demands and stress, from teens to elderly parents and may not have the time or resources to tend to their own needs. Some women may find themselves alone, widowed or divorced, with children gone. For others, difficult issues from the past, such as abuse, may resurface in midlife and need a process of resolution and healing. Low income and a lack of control over the circumstances of one's life also contribute to poor health. A wide range of emotions and concerns may be attributed to menopause that has much to do with the nature of a woman's life during these transitions.

Growing older means growing wiser and finding our voices to seek out what is best for our own health and well-being and for the benefit of our families, communities and our society. There are no ready answers. Whatever our decision about hormone therapy, it is what we learn about ourselves and our world that offers challenges and meaning to our lives.

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