One thing about life is that it is always subject to change. So much so, that when women begin to go through menopause, it is referred to as “the change.” I wonder, without all the modern conveniences, how did women living though this period in their lives make it? There are the hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal problems that put a damper on the normal stride of life.
Medical advances like hormone therapy were a staple of medical procedure in treating women in this area. But again, as with all else, this too changed. In 2002, a clinical study was done called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This study indicated that hormone therapy was possibly more dangerous than helpful to women as previously thought. Immediately, there was fallout to this medical darling. Up to two-thirds of women stopped taking hormones and many doctors stopped prescribing them as well.
But what really are the risks?
What did the study find?
For one, estrogen is still the “most effective” option for menopausal symptoms according to Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that estrogen deters bone deterioration (osteoporosis), decreases the development of colorectal cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease, specifically in younger, postmenopausal women.
However, the risks the WHI clinical trial revealed were when women use estrogen-progestin combination, chances of developing conditions such as heart disease (in older postmenopausal women), breast cancer, stroke and blood clots increased. There was even an increase in abnormal mammograms. For women taking estrogen alone, women experienced an increase in stroke, blood clots in the legs as well as more mammography abnormalities.
Should one avoid hormone therapy altogether then? Not necessarily. If you have breast cancer, heart disease or problems with blood clots – then no, hormone therapy is not for you. Talk to your doctor about which medications are best for you in order to control menopausal symptoms. However, the same WHI trial suggests not avoiding hormone therapy altogether, but making adjustments so as to prevent risks from developing.