Hormones are a hot topic these days. Women of all ages have been hearing about the hormone replacement discussion that is happening on TV, in magazines, and right here on EmpowHer.com. Estrogen comes in several forms which is why many of my patients are surprised to learn the birth control pill counts as estrogen replacement. How many years were you on the pill? Are you considering hormone replacement as an adult?
Estrogen is a normal hormone in the body. We need it as women and therefore our body produces it in a cyclical nature throughout our menstrual cycle. Once your periods have ended (menopause), other parts of the body produce estrogen such as your fat tissue and your adrenal glands.
Many women remember the studies that took place on hormone replacement and its effect on the female body. First, in the HERS study (Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study) they found that post-menopausal women with known heart disease had more heart attacks and heart disease deaths.
Next, in the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative), researchers halted the study because of the increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease. In the extension study of the WHI, where women were given estrogen only (no progestin), they again stopped the trial due to the increased risk of stroke and no risk reduction for heart disease in post-menopausal women without a uterus.
In 2008, a Danish study of 700,000 women showed that there was a 24% increased risk in women aged 51-54. Additionally, women who took a combo of estrogen and progestin continuously had a 35% increased risk of heart attack.
Considering all of these trials (plus many more), the American Heart Association does not recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease or to protect your heart from future risks.
Something to remember when reading about these trials is that the estrogen and progestin were synthetic drugs, not anything like your body creates naturally.