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Hormone Replacement Therapy Q&A

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2. Is any type of hormone therapy safer than others?

Experts are still not sure. You and your doctor should talk about which form of HRT might be right for you.

Low-dose hormone replacement therapy: Studies show that lower doses of hormone replacement therapy offer the same benefits without as many risks. In a new study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where the WHI research took place, women who took low-dose estrogen had 53% fewer hot flashes and night sweats.

Estrogen alone: This is the suggested treatment for women who’ve had a hysterectomy to remove their uterus. Women who take estrogen alone have fewer risks of breast cancer and other disorders. Still, doctors caution that taking estrogen alone can increase your risk of stroke and uterine cancer.

Bio-identical estrogen patches, creams, or vaginal rings: These forms of estrogen are similar to what the body makes. Unlike a pill, they enter the body through the skin or walls of the vagina. In this way, they bypass the liver, reducing the risk of serious blood clots or gallbladder disease.

3. What else can I do to prevent menopause symptoms?

Soy or black cohosh: Soy and black cohosh supplements contain phytoestrogens, plant materials that may act like estrogen in the body. Some studies haven’t found any proof that these “natural” therapies reduce menopause symptoms. Supplements aren’t regulated or approved by the FDA, and phytoestrogens may increase risks for certain diseases.

Antidepressants : Studies show antidepressants like Prozac and Effexor reduce hot flashes. One study found that venlafaxine, the main ingredient in Effexor, reduced hot flashes and night sweats by 48%. The results were similar to those for low-dose estrogen but without the risks.

Lifestyle changes: Here are some other ways to cope with menopause symptoms:

  • Dress in layers so you can remove clothes as needed.
  • Avoid hot and spicy foods and beverages.
  • Use cotton sheets, and wear clothes that allow your skin to breathe.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get regular exercise.

Don’t forget to check with your doctor. The best plan for you might be to do nothing at all.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on August 29, 2014
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