Since the announcement that hormone replacement therapy is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer, many postmenopausal women have been left unsure about whether or not to use the treatment.
Doctors say the hardest group to treat right now is women around 50 years old who are first facing menopause. These women are likely to be suffering from symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats and for them, the treatment "may be safe and reasonable, but they're made to feel if they take HRT they are taking cyanide.They say women have to consider their own individual risk, including their risk for breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, and then consider how severe their symptoms are, how great a fear they have of the risks, and how willing they are to make lifestyle changes.
Doctors also say for those who choose not to use HRT, but who are suffering from symptoms of menopause, there are other options available and for milder symptoms there are over-the-counter options as well as alternative therapies. For people with moderate to severe symptoms, defined as more than seven hot flashes a day or three to four night sweats each night, low-dose antidepressants have been found to ease the symptoms in 30 percent to 60 percent of patients.
In the future, Doctors say other options will be available to help more women without the systemic side effects found with HRT. These treatment options include a gel that would be rubbed on the arms or abdomen, nasal estradiol, a patch, or a vaginal ring.