Harvard Women's Health Watch

Menopause group reassures women about hormone therapy

Since 2002, when results from the Women's Health Initiative raised concerns about the potential risks of hormone therapy, many women have worried about using this treatment to combat menopause symptoms. In the March issue of its journal, Menopause, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) offered some reassurance that hormone therapy can be safe and effective for symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, provided that it's prescribed with a woman's individual health in mind. Hormone therapy is also effective for preventing osteoporosis in women at high risk for fracture. Overall, the society says the risks of hormone therapy are low in women ages 50 to 59, although they do rise in older women. When deciding whether to use hormone therapy, you and your doctor should take into consideration the severity of your symptoms, as well as your age, general health, and your risks of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. If you decide to take hormone therapy, experts, including those at NAMS, still advise taking the lowest dose that controls your symptoms for the shortest period of time necessary.

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