236. Hormone Therapy May or May Not Be Needed

Many of the symptoms typical of menopause can be attributed to a drop in circulating levels of estrogen, the principal female hormone.  Consequently, taking estrogen can relieve vaginal dryness, insomnia, and hot flashes and may protect against osteoporosis.

Estrogen can be taken as estrogen therapy (ET) or as estrogen plus progestogen (EPT). The latter is prescribed for women who still have a uterus, because estrogen without a progestin increases the risk for uterine cancer. The term hormone therapy (HT) is used for both ET and EPT.

Women may not need HT to treat menopausal symptoms. It is worth considering, especially short term, if you suffer recurrent vaginal and urinary tract infections or are very bothered by hot flashes, insomnia, or vaginal dryness. This is a decision made with your doctor’s advice. Hormone therapy can be taken in pill form; patches; shots; or a cream, tablets or a ring that is inserted into the vagina. The kind you are prescribed will depend on your symptoms and your health history.

If you’re taking hormone therapy and experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor.

  1. Hair loss.

  2. Facial pigmentation.

  3. Skin rash.

  4. Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

  5. Warm, red, tender calves.

Chapter 9
  1. Women’s Health Problems