Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Risks of Hormones in Early Menopause Challenged

Weighing Benefits and Risks

The study found that both forms of hormone therapy relieved menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats better than the placebo. Hormones also showed significant benefits for sexual health. Both pain with intercourse and vaginal dryness improved in women taking estrogen. Women on the patch, but not the pill, saw increases in their libido.

Hormone therapy had a mixed effect on some measures of heart health. Hormones didn’t raise blood pressure, as had been seen in other studies. Women taking hormones also had small, positive changes in their cholesterol, with an increase in good cholesterol, HDL, and a decrease in bad LDL levels, compared to women on the placebo. But hormones also raised blood fats called triglycerides and C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. Both markers are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Nearly 700 women agreed to participate in the part of the study that looked at mental function. They took tests at the start of the study and at 18, 36, and 48 months, designed to measure mood and memory.

“We found symptoms related to depression were significantly improved for women who got the oral form of estrogen. The skin patch [on the] arm didn’t show benefits or harm for mood,” Asthana says.

Estrogen pills, but not patches, seemed to improve anxiety and tension compared to a placebo, he says.

Women on hormones in the KEEPS study showed no memory loss over the course of the study. That was a relief, Asthana says, because the WHI found that women taking hormones were at higher risk for dementia than those who did not take them.

But he acknowledges that four years may not be enough time to measure meaningful changes to memory.

Safety Issues

The women in the KEEPS study were also more than a decade younger than women in the WHI. Hormones may affect the brain in ways that may only show up as women age, says Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections