More women are again using HRT to stop hot flashes, and some physicians say hormone therapy is now a much safer option than it was in the past. Hormone replacement therapy has a pretty bad reputation following the 2002 fallout, but now doctors say the procedure has been polished enough to be a safe alternative to sweating out menopause with mood swings and hot flashes. Causes and symptoms of menopause are both treated through hormone therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy, HRT, became popular in the 1980s and 90s as a treatment for menopause. Women going through “the change” took estrogen and progestin pills to fight the dropping estrogen levels in their bodies. Because it’s the lack of the hormone that causes hormonal night sweats, hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, HRT directly treated these issues by replacing that estrogen. But the cure had a rather negative side effect: increased risk of cancer and other potentially fatal health problems.
The Women’s Health Initiative published a 2002 study showing that women who underwent HRT faced more incidents of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer than those who did not. Hormone Replacement Therapy very quickly became infamous, and women stopped taking their estrogen-progestin pills in droves.
But scientists have had 9 years to examine the study and HRT itself. Conflicting camps have emerged, with some supporting HRT as a viable way to stop hot flashes and other menopause symptoms in spite of the risks, and opposition stating that no treatment is worth those risks. Physicians have changed the way they prescribe HRT, and the executive director of the North American Menopause Society, Dr. Margery Gass, says that hormone replacement therapy is being recommended as a treatment for moderate to severe menopause symptoms.
Pharmaceutical companies have lowered the amount of estrogen available to make HRT treatments safer, and many of them are now offering the hormone in topical forms that are absorbed by the skin to decrease the risk of blood clot formation. Now, physicians prescribe lower amounts of hormones for shorter periods of time.
Other ways to stop hot flashes
Causes of your hot flashes are indeed addressed by hormone replacement therapy, but some women find the risks aren’t worth the rewards. Vitamin supplements that mimic estrogen prove to be a viable alternative for some. Unlike hormone pills, vitamin supplements do not contain actual estrogen. Many of these supplements, like Remifemin, are made with plant-based estrogens and ingredients that help to treat some of the side effects of menopause to stop hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. Consult with your physician before adding any supplements to your diet, no matter how benign they may seem.