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Do you think all HRT is the same? Let’s look at the facts

WomenBe team
By WomenBe team
  • MANAGING MENOPAUSE

Do you think all HRT is the same? Let’s look at the facts

You might have heard that there are ‘facts’ and then there are ‘alternative facts’? Well it turns out that this is true when it comes to medicine too! Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) as it is becoming known, is a widely discussed topic.

There are several ‘alternative facts’ and myths out there about the way MHT works and who should or shouldn’t take it.

Your doctor is the best person to discuss MHT with, and will help you understand what is right for you.

We’ve also brought together some of the real facts to help guide you as you explore your options for MHT.

FACT: Hormone therapy has been widely prescribed for the treatment of menopause symptoms

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) has been used successfully by millions of women worldwide to relieve the symptoms of menopause. These symptoms are the result of changes in the body's levels of estrogen and progesterone.

Your doctor can prescribe MHT to replace these reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone.

MHT can help to reduce symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, and can also help to reduce the risk of bone fractures.

Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of MHT, talk with you about lifestyle changes and other treatment options that can help with symptoms, and then help you decide on the best treatment for your individual needs.

FACT: There are many different types of hormone therapy

There are lots of options for MHT and they all vary in their benefits and risks. Some people believe that all MHT does the same thing, but this is not the case. What’s right for your neighbour or your sister may not be right for you. Speaking to an experienced doctor is the only way to find out what type of MHT might be best for you.

FACT: Whether or not hormone therapy is for you depends on your individual situation

People who have had a good experience with MHT may sing its praises and urge you to try it. But hormone therapy should not be taken by everyone – issues like current or suspected breast cancer, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or problems with the heart or liver mean that some people cannot take MHT. Exactly what symptoms are troubling you can also affect the decision about whether MHT is right for you.

But don’t be disheartened if MHT is not ideal for your situation.

Some non-hormonal therapies, exercise, lifestyle and diet changes, and relaxation techniques can all help with various menopausal symptoms.

Talking to an experienced doctor will help you identify the best options for your individual needs.

FACT: Hormone therapy, like other medicines, comes with a balance of benefits and risks

Like all other medicines we take, MHT can have significant benefits for the right women, as well as risks and side effects.

Commonly mentioned concerns such as an increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease, may be relevant for some women. But for others, the risks may be small and may be outweighed by the benefits – MHT is still the most effective solution for the relief of menopausal symptoms and is also effective for the prevention of osteoporosis.

Talking with your doctor about your personal and family history is the best way to make an informed decision about your own health and any treatments that are suitable for you.

FACT: Bio-identical hormone therapies are not yet considered either effective or safe

Bio-identical hormone therapies are individually compounded (made by a pharmacist) for people based on an assessment of their personal hormone profile. However, because therapies are individually produced, there is very little quality control, safety testing or monitoring available for them. And saliva tests that are commonly used by some practitioners to assess hormone profiles are not sensitive or accurate enough to be used to make-up a compounded prescription.

Like any hormone treatment, bio-identical therapies also have risks and there is no regulation covering their purity or dosage.

That's why these therapies are currently not recommended by the international medical community as an alternative to fully approved and tested MHT medicines.

FACT: MHT is the most effective treatment currently available for hot flushes and night sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause and affect about 80% of women.1 Although other types of prescription treatments can help relieve these symptoms, MHT is currently the most effective treatment available for hot flushes and night sweats associated with menopause.

If you're ready to learn more facts about modern MHT and whether it may be right for you, it's time to book an appointment with your doctor and talk with you about a menopause treatment to suit your individual needs.

 

© Pfizer 2017 Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. 38–42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, NSW, 2114. PP-DUA-AUS-0122, 07/2017

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REFERENCES

  1. The Royal Women's Hospital. The women's health book. (2014). 1st ed. Sydney: Random House Australia.