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Hormone Therapy: For Whom? How Long?

When Is Menopausal Hormone Therapy Appropriate? Expert Panel Weighs In

Consensus: Not continued...

"I think a woman who has been using hormone therapy, and who has done well with it, should probably stay on it," Phillips says. "On balance, that will be beneficial to her health. I do believe the long-term risks will prove to be less with estrogen given as a patch than as a pill. But the evidence to support that is only indirect at present."

O'Sullivan, too, is unhappy with the panel's conclusions -- but for far different reasons than Phillips. She says the panel underestimates the risks of hormone therapy.

"I truly understand how these women feel," O'Sullivan tells WebMD. "But there are other things besides hormone therapy to do for severe menopausal symptoms. I do feel there is a role for hormone therapy for women who cannot get their symptoms relieved -- but for a short period of time; just enough to give them a break. I say not to give it for a year, but for three or four months -- then start weaning them off."

For women who choose to remain on hormone therapy, O'Sullivan would check back with them in two or three months -- not a year -- and urge them to try stopping.

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