Hormone Replacement Therapy Debate

Experts estimate that 13.5 million women in the United States take hormones during and after menopause. Of those, almost 8 million take estrogen only, while about 6 million take a combination of estrogen and progestin. Progestin has been used to counterbalance one of the known harmful effects of estrogen thought to be responsible for endometrial cancer.

That is, until the news broke in July of 2002. Two major studies revealed that the health risks of taking hormone replacements were now known to outweigh the benefits. One study, performed by the NIH Women’s Health Initiative, also discovered that the risk of endometrial cancer was unaffected by hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

No one knows for sure how many women have abandoned hormone replacement prescribed to mitigate the discomfort of menopause. Or to stave off osteoporosis. Or to reduce their risk of various heart conditions and cancers.

What’s a Woman To Do?

If you’re confused about the research findings and are having trouble deciding what to do about your own health, plan three important steps:

  1. Find out all that you can about estrogen and other hormones. Read brochures and web sites published by reputable agencies.
  2. List any questions that you have. Take these questions to your physician, your gynecologist, or your health practitioner. Find out about classes or information sessions planned at your nearest Women’s Health clinic. Chances are, these classes or session will be free or very low cost.
  3. If you and your health care providers disagree about a course of action, list the pros and cons and clarify each one. Don’t forget to review your family history of such conditions as breast cancer, endometrial cancer, heart attacks, blood clots, colorectoal cancer and coronary heart disease. Address this question: Why am I taking or why should I take hormone replacements?

Let Us Help

We can’t make this decision for you, nor can we emphatically prescribe a single course of action. Experts in women’s health have said that although the health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy were higher than expected, they saw no reason for women to abruptly cease taking hormones. You’re not in danger if you continue for the time being. Take your time.

Meanwhile, we’ve assembled information that might be helpful. Follow the links on this page to find out why 13.5 million women were taking hormones, and what benefits should still be pursued. We’ll help you understand a bit more about hormones, risks and benefits, and what information you might need to pursue so that you can make a good decision.