As many as 85 percent of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes. Many women think of hot flashes and other menopause symptoms as an unavoidable part of aging. The treatment for it, hormone replacement therapy, if often believed to be too dangerous for women to use. However, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. A recent statement from 15 top medical organizations aims to rehabilitate hormone therapy.
A study called the Women’s Health Initiative looked at health and mortality among postmenopausal women. The largest study of its kind, it looked at cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis among over 160,000 volunteers over a 15-year period. Among the results published, around a decade after the study began, was a finding that appeared to show heightened risk of breast cancer, coronary disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, which led to many doctors and patients rejecting hormone therapy for menopause symptoms as too risky.
Now a coalition of women’s health organizations led by the North American Menopause Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Endocrine Society says that these results have been overgeneralized, and hormone therapy, they say, has been unjustly maligned as a result. They released a statement pointing out that the study was about long-term effects of hormone treatment, and did not address short-term use of hormones at low dosages for moderate to severe menopausal symptoms when medically indicated.
"Physicians can help patients determine, based on their own particular characteristics and history, whether or not they are good candidates for hormone therapy and what type of HT will provide them the greatest relief at the lowest risk," Roger Lobo, MD, a former president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in the release. Guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration allow estrogen to be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time, which allows postmenopausal women to receive effective treatment.