Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause
How Long Should I Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Since research on hormone replacement therapy is ongoing, women should revaluate their treatment plans each year. Discontinue HRT (under your health care provider's guidance) if you develop a medical condition that would make it less safe for you.
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Prevent Heart Disease?
Results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study showed that HRT did not reduce the overall rate of heart disease events in postmenopausal women with established heart disease, and that the therapy actually increased the risk of heart disease in the women on combination estrogen/progestin or estrogen-only therapy.
A study published in the March 5, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on WHI participants three years after they stopped combination HRT. The researchers found that HRT reduced the risk of heart disease but not the risk of stroke, blood clots, and cancer.
More studies are under way to investigate the relationship between HRT and heart disease.
Based on the WHI Study Results, Should I Stop Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy?
It's important that you do not make any abrupt changes to your hormone replacement therapy without consulting your doctor. He or she can discuss with you the benefits and risks of HRT based on your individual circumstances.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has the following recommendations for women who may have questions about the long-term use of HRT:
- First, the therapy should not be continued or started to prevent heart disease. Women should consult their doctor about other methods of prevention, such as lifestyle changes, and cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering drugs.
- Second, for osteoporosis prevention, women should consult their doctor and weigh the benefits against their personal risks for heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. Alternate treatments to prevent osteoporosis and fractures should be considered.
- Third, women should keep up with their regular schedule of mammograms and breast self-exams.
- Finally, women taking the therapy for relief of menopausal symptoms should take the lowest dose possible for the shortest possible time.