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Hormone Replacement Therapy: Pros and Cons

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Pros:

  • Prevents bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis
  • Relieves symptoms of menopause
  • Lowers risk of colon cancer
  • Lowers risk of macular degeneration, vision loss that occurs when the macula, the part of the retina at the back of the eye that provides sharp, central vision, deteriorates with age

Cons:

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While HRT may help many women get through menopause, the treatment is not risk-free. Known health risks include:

  • An increased risk of endometrial cancer (if a woman still has her uterus and is not taking progesterone along with estrogen)
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of gallbladder disease
  • Increase in blood pressure in some women
  • Increased risk of larger, more invasive breast cancers (combination HRT only)

The decision to use hormone therapy after menopause should be made by a woman and her healthcare provider after weighing all of the potential risks (including breast cancer, stroke and blood clots) and benefits (relief of menopause symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis). Scientists are continuing to learn more about the effects of HRT.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on August 21, 2012
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