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Quitting Hormone Replacement Therapy

Other Options to Relieve Most Common Symptoms of Menopause continued...

There are three options for vaginal dryness, pain, itching, and burning:

  • Low-dose, prescription vaginal estrogen works best. You apply it as a cream, tablet, or ring into the vagina. Only a tiny bit is absorbed into the bloodstream, so the chance of health problems is much lower than with estrogen pills.
  • Water- or silicone-based vaginal lubricants are put in the vagina or on the penis just before sex to reduce discomfort. You can buy them over the counter.
  • Vaginal moisturizers, also available over the counter, keep tissues moist. You apply them three times a week, but not before sex.

For mood swings and depression:

  • Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help mood.
  • Daily exercise, plenty of sleep, and stress control techniques like yoga, deep breathing, or relaxation exercises can also help.

Ways to Quit Hormone Replacement Therapy

There is no best way to stop HRT. "If you're on a low dose, you may be able to go cold turkey," Chang says. But in general, she and Schiff prefer that women taper off hormones slowly. You can do this by:

  • Lowering the dosage
  • Taking fewer pills per week

Work with your doctor to find the best plan for you.

Still Up in the Air?

If you're still undecided, Schiff has this advice: "Reduce the dose and see what happens. You can always start back up." But check with your doctor first.

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Reviewed on May 05, 2014

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