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Deciding about Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy (HT) uses one or more hormones to treat symptoms of menopause.

Menopause and Hormones

During menopause:

Menstrual flow may come to a sudden halt after surgery to remove the ovaries, chemotherapy or certain hormone treatments for breast cancer.

Menopause symptoms may last 5 or more years, including:

Hormone therapy can be used to treat menopause symptoms. Hormone therapy uses the hormones estrogen and progestin, a type of progesterone. Sometimes testosterone is also added.

Hormone therapy comes in the form of a pill, patch, injection, vaginal cream or tablet, or ring.

When considering Hormone therapy, learn about how it can help you. Taking hormones can have some risks.

Benefits of Hormone Therapy

When taking hormones, hot flashes and night sweats tend to occur less often and can even go away over time. Slowly reducing hormone therapy may make these symptoms less bothersome.

Hormone therapy can also be very helpful in relieving:

At one time, hormone therapy was used to help prevent thinning bones. That is no longer the case. Your doctor can prescribe other medicines to treat osteoporosis.

Studies show that hormone therapy does not help treat:

Risks of Hormone Therapy

Be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks of hormone therapy. The risks may vary depending on age, medical history and other factors.


Taking hormone therapy may increase your risk for blood clots. Your risk of blood clots is also higher if you're obese or smoke.

Your risk of blood clots may be lower if you use estrogen skin patches instead of pills.

Your risk is lower if you use vaginal creams and tablets and the low-dose estrogen ring.




Hormone therapy is safest when taken before age 60 or within 10- years after starting menopause.


Women who take only estrogen and who take estrogen with progesterone have an increased risk of stroke. Using the estrogen patch instead of an oral pill decreases this risk. However, it is still increased compared to not taking any hormones at all.


Taking hormone therapy may increase your risk of gallstones.

Making a Decision about Hormone Therapy

Every woman is different. Some women aren't bothered by menopause symptoms. For others, symptoms are severe and affect their lives significantly.

If menopause symptoms bother you, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of HT. You and your doctor can decide if hormone therapy is right for you. Your doctor should know your medical history before prescribing HT.

You should not take hormone therapy if you:

Certain lifestyle changes can help you adjust to changes of menopause without taking hormones. They can also help protect your bones, improve your heart health, and help you stay fit.

However, for many women, taking hormone therapy is a safe way to treat menopause symptoms, as long as you take it:

When to Call the Doctor

If you have vaginal bleeding or other unusual symptoms during hormone therapy, call your doctor.

Be sure to continue seeing your doctor for regular checkups.

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