There's been a lot in the news, both good and bad, concerning hormone replacement therapy. "There's unfortunately a lot of half truths and a lot of misinformation out there," says Lee Memorial Health System gynecologist, Dr. Timothy Hughes.
HRT as it's often called, is used during the transition into menopause. This sort of therapy can help women deal with unstable hormones that can occur and may even protect against osteoporosis. "Hormone therapy is just that. It's replacement. All we're doing is replacing a hormone a woman's body is unable to make. Its no different than giving an insulin to a diabetic or giving a thyroid pill to a person with a thyroid disorder."
Some researchers have stated that HRT can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Dr. Hughes says its important for each woman to talk to their individual physician about these risks. He adds that he's prescribed it to patients and will continue to do so if the situation warrants. "Medicine is not black and white. It's not cookbook. This has to be individualized based on a thorough history, based on a thorough exam, and again, the comfort level of both the patient and the physician."
While the long term effects are still under investigation, Dr. Hughes says some women clearly benefit from HRT. "You do that in the lowest dose possible for the least amount of time. It can certainly be done in a safe manner that will allow patients to transition through that point in your life."
If you and your physician do decide to use hormone replacement therapy, an evaluation with your physician should take place every 6 months.