Menopause & HRT
What is menopause?
When ovaries stop producing eggs, they also stop producing hormones. The average age of menopause is around 51. Women can go through menopause few years earlier or few years later than this.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Other problems associated with menopause include loss of sex drive (libido), constant tiredness, headaches, sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression.
What is HRT?
Hormone Replacement Therapy is replacing the female hormones that your body lacks. It usually consists of the combination of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. If you have had a hysterectomy, you will only need one hormone (oestrogen). HRT is available in many forms, including tablets, skin patches and gels. Your doctor will help you choose the most suitable form.
Do I need HRT?
Many women will have an “easy” menopause with mild symptoms and won’t need HRT.
If menopause symptoms are affecting the quality of your life and you are suffering because of them, please talk to your doctor. There are many treatments available. HRT is only one of them but probably the most effective one.
What are the benefits of HTR?
HRT can make a big difference to the quality of life.
It usually treats all menopausal symptoms very effectively.
It reduced the risk of bone fracture (especially hip fracture) and osteoporosis.
It also reduces the risk of bowel cancer.
What are the risks of HRT?
In every 1000 women in their 50s, NOT taking HRT, approximately 10 will develop breast cancer over the period of 5 years. If these women take HRT for up to 5 years, there would be an extra 2 breast cancers in every 1000, if they take only oestrogen. There will be an extra 6 in every 1000 women taking combined oestrogen and progesterone HRT over the period of 5 years.
So there is a risk but it is small and once you stop taking HRT, the risks go down to what they were before taking HRT.
There are other risks, including developing clots in your lungs and legs, stroke, cancer of the ovaries. Like the risk of breast cancer, these risks are small.
There has been a lot of media attention about the safety of HRT in the recent years. This has resulted in a great deal of worry amongst women considering HRT or already taking it. HRT does have risks but most experts agree that:
If you are suffering from menopausal symptoms and are in your 50s, taking HRT is a reasonable thing to do, especially if you take it for up to 5 years. The risks are small and serious side effects are rare. HRT is very effective in relieving your menopausal symptoms and also offers other health benefits such as reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
You can ask your GP or your Gynaecologist to help you understand the risks and benefit and to discuss whether HRT is right for you.