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    Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?

    What are a treatment's side effects?

    Choosing a treatment involves thinking about your whole life and what you can or can't endure. Steps like cutting stress or dropping weight to sleep better and manage hot flashes will also boost your overall health.

    Other choices are more complex. Depression drugs also work well against hot flashes for some, for example. However, they can curb sexual desire and have other effects such as nausea and weight gain.

    Estrogen-progestin hormone therapy carries a raised risk of breast cancer, stroke, and deep-vein thrombosis.

    How old are you?

    When routine hormone therapy fell out of favor in 2002, it was because women in a major study had a higher risk of serious problems. These included heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. But age matters. Women 50 to 59 had a 30% lower chance of dying on hormone therapy. It was the women over 70 who had a higher risk.

    Research shows hormone therapy is most helpful and least heart-risky in the years just before and after menopause. This is also when symptoms tend to be worst.

    What's your health history?

    In the end, you should work with a doctor who knows your health history to decide how to treat menopause symptoms. Women who have had breast cancer, for example, should not use hormone therapy or plant-based estrogens. Those with dense breasts, heart problems, or blood clots may also be advised not to use it.

    Whatever route you and your doctor choose, you should track progress and side effects, and review your choice each year.

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    Reviewed on October 07, 2013

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