Here are Dr Louise R Newson's top 10 myths about HRT...

1. You have to wait for your symptoms to be really bad before taking HRT

This is not the case as HRT usually helps even if you have mild symptoms.  Also, there is increasing evidence that starting HRT early leads to greater protection from osteoporosis and heart disease.

2. HRT delays the menopause

Any symptoms you have after stopping HRT are menopausal symptoms you would have experienced if you had never taken HRT. Without HRT, some women have menopausal symptoms for numerous years.

3. You have to stop HRT after 5 years

This isn't necessarily true, the length of time you take HRT for is an individual choice and depends on your individual health.

4. There is an increased risk of breast cancer with all types of HRT

Only some types of HRT are associated with a small increased risk of breast cancer. This risk is actually less that for women who are obese or drinking a couple of glasses of wine each day.  When you stop taking HRT, any increased risk of breast cancer reduces. However, taking oestrogen only HRT does not seem to be associated with this risk.

5. HRT causes clots

If you take tablet HRT then there is a very small increased risk of a clot developing. However, taking oestrogen part of HRT as either a gel or a patch reduces this.

6. HRT will cause heart attacks

Taking HRT when you are under 60 years of age does not increase your risk of developing a heart attack.

7. You can not take HRT if you have a migraine

Migraines can worsen during the menopause and can improve by taking HRT.  The oestrogen should be given as gels or patches.

8. HRT is associated with a risk of breast cancer in younger menopausal women

Women under 45 years should be given replacement hormones until they are 51 years. This  helps to reduce their risk of osteoporosis, heart attacks and psychological disorders.  Any risks of HRT do not apply to younger women taking HRT.

9. Using oestrogen vaginally for vaginal dryness has the same risks as taking HRT

Vaginal dryness is very common and using oestrogen as a vaginal tablet, cream or ring can be really effective. This is not the same as taking HRT and does not have the same risks associated with it. These products can be safely used by most women and regularly over a long period of time.

10. Natural treatments for the menopause are always safer than HRT

Many women want to take natural products for their menopause but the definition of “natural” can be unclear.  Deadly nightshade is a plant so is natural but clearly not safe.  Many of the hormones in HRT prescribed are natural as they are derived from yams.


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