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HRT Helps Quality of Life

Poll: HRT Helps Quality of Life
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However, women who had taken HRT for one or two years actually had improved well-being scores, likely reflecting the reassurance short-term users got from WHI findings, he says.

Women who had taken HRT longer than two years reported greater numbers of symptoms such as night sweats, likely because they were concerned and focusing more than normal on symptoms, says Utian.

"Women should look carefully at what the studies are and what they are not," he says. "Then, take a deep breath. One study's findings are not necessary applicable to the typical perimenopausal woman -- the woman trying to decide whether to take HRT or not. In most studies, the women were older and had more severe symptoms than most women."

"It's important to note, the WHI study did not look at [how HRT prevented the] symptoms [of menopause]," says Margaret Gass, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and director of the University Hospital Menopause and Osteoporosis Center in Cincinnati.

Gass has been a principal investigator of several clinical research studies that have focused on menopause and postmenopausal women, including the WHI study.

"WHI was looking mainly at HRT as a preventive therapy [for heart disease and osteoporosis]," she tells WebMD.

Hormones are on the market and FDA-approved to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes whether they happen during the day or night, says Gass. "Those symptoms have secondary effects like sleep disruption, which means you're not feeling good the next day. So there are some ramifications to hot flashes; it's not just the few seconds you have hot flashes."

Keep in mind that menopausal symptoms are transient, she says. "It's a phase, and that's all. And it's variable from woman to woman; 20% do not have hot flashes. We do not know why. Some have symptoms one year, some have them for up to five years. Some have symptoms occasionally. But typically, they do become milder and less frequent."

Women need to weigh the risks and benefits, says Gass. "You might also consider practical measures to relieve symptoms, like trying to keep your environment cool since heat will trigger hot flashes. Wear natural fibers, hot spicy foods." Exercise and paced breathing also help.

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