Reprinted courtesy of Humane Society of the US


Choosing whether to begin Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at menopause or after gynecologic surgery is one of the most important health-care decisions a woman will make in her lifetime. An estimated 1.5 million American women will experience the first symptoms of menopause this year, and 650,000 women will undergo removal of the uterus, often with associated removal of the ovaries. Each of these women, in consultation with her physician, must weigh the benefits of hormone replacement against the potential risks; only then can she make an informed decision.

Every woman is different, and health care must be tailored to meet the patient's specific medical profile. Before beginning an HRT program, a woman's personal and family medical history-especially with regard to cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis- must be evaluated. Also to be considered are the woman's diet and lifestyle, and whether she is willing and able to reduce her risks through nutritional changes and a regular program of exercise.

Pros:

* eases menopausal symptoms
* helps prevent bone loss and fractures due to osteoporosis and may prevent bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis
* can possibly confer some protection from Alzheimer's dementia
* protects against skin collagen loss
* may reduce risk of colon cancer
* protects against bladder and vaginal atrophy

Cons:

* increases risk of uterine cancer unless taken with progesterone (natural NOT synthethic progestin)
* may increase risk of venous thrombosis, phlebitis, and pulmonary emboli
* may increase risk of breast cancer
* may increase or aggravate gallbladder disease
* may induce vaginal bleeding at high dosages

Editors Note: More and more positive information is coming out about the use of natural progesterone cream to ease premenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Products are available at health food stores and better drug stores.

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