Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has had a complex history and has always invited controversy. From being the gold standard for treating and controlling menopause symptoms, it has been reduced to a treatment to be avoided for its negative repercussions.
Multiple studies have shown that the negative impact of HRT may outweigh possible benefits. While it could reduce hot flashes and mood swings, it could increase risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and so on it was found. There was also evidence to show that combination therapies that included progesterone as well as estrogen increased risk of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and others.
In fact the trials were themselves stopped when it seemed to become clear that the therapy was causing more harm than good.
However this recent New York Times article makes valid argument why for some menopausal women, hormones may be the only option.
One reason is the fact that all the so called natural treatments for menopause symptoms seem to have met with poor findings.
Soy and flaxseed supplements, it was found, seemed to have no effect either on hot flashes or bone density – they seemed to have about the same impact as placebo.
Other natural remedies such as block cohosh, red clover and botanicals are also ineffectual. Certain prescription medications seem to be poorly tolerated by some women, this being the other reason.
It is argued in favor of HRT today, that the findings of the earlier trials may not apply to women with typical menopause symptoms.
Even clinicians who have been against HRT are now conceding that the treatment could perhaps have some merit for women who have severe menopause symptoms that interfere with regular functioning. As many as a third of menopausal women may have such severe symptoms. Also the symptoms could carry on for as long as a decade. So then what is a woman to do? This is certainly a case in favor of HRT.
One of the problems is also that of perception. Side effects are common in numerous drugs, but somehow when it comes to hormones, the possible adverse effects seem to be viewed with even greater alarm. People are less tolerant of hormone treatments; perhaps it smacks too much of somehow interfering with nature?
The bottom line with HRT is this – are the symptoms severe enough to ruin a woman’s life quality at present and is she willing to get rid of those symptoms at the cost of some amount of risk?