According to a source, menopause is “the cessation of monthly menstrual cycles in middle-aged women” (Bee, 2012, pg. 393). There are a few negative symptoms and effects associated with menopause. For example, women going through menopause often experience “hot flashes, thinning of the vaginal wall, and loss of vaginal lubrication” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). However, the effects and symptoms can be reduced by taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Taking hormones to reduce the effects and symptoms of menopause is called hormone therapy (HT).
There are advantages and disadvantages of taking hormones to reduce the symptoms and effects of menopause. During the 1990’s, physicians commonly prescribed HT for menopausal women because they thought that it would “protect women against heart disease and dementia” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). However, the perception of this therapy changed when a study was posted in 2002 by the Women’s Health Initiative (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). The study by this organization showed that long-term use of estrogen or combined estrogen-progesterone HT greatly increased the risk of breast and ovarian cancers (Bee, 2012, pg. 94). The Heart and Estrogen Replacement Study (HERS) showed that HT did not give women protection against cardiovascular disease (CD) (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Additionally, the study suggested that HT could have possibly increased the intensity of CD “among study participants who already had it” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Another source states that HT increases the risk of uterine cancer (WebMD, 2012, pg. 1). Finally, HT also increases the risk of blood clots and stroke (Mayo Clinic staff, 2012, pg. 1).
After these studies were published, the number of women taking part in HT significantly decreased (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). In spite of risks of HT, it does have benefits for women with menopause. However, the benefits of this therapy are few. Recent research has shown that HT only reduces hot flashes “and protection against osteoporosis” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Nonetheless, there are ways that hormones may be introduced to the body that are less harmful than normal HT. For example, systemic hormone therapy comes in the form of pills, cream, gel, spray, and skin patches (Mayo Clinic staff, 2012, pg. 1).
This source also says that systemic hormone therapy is the most effective treatment of some menopausal symptoms. (Mayo Clinic staff, 2012, pg. 1). Also, low dose vaginal products can help reduce the effects of vaginal and uterine symptoms caused by menopause. Although it has few benefits, HT is considered the best treatment available for menopause. Also, HT is effective at preventing osteoporosis and is a good alternative to other medicines used to protect bone health (WebMD, 2012, pg. 1). In summary, it is important that women are cautious about undergoing treatment for menopause that includes HT.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “women should aim for the lowest dosage that provides symptom relief and avoid taking hormones for more than a year or two” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Also, this organization believes that women should take medication that specifically treats their symptoms (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Third, physicians advise that women being treated for menopausal symptoms visit their doctors on a consistent basis (Bee, 2012, pg. 394). Finally, doctors recommend that menopausal women follow the instructions of their doctors “with regard to cancer screenings” (Bee, 2012, pg. 394).