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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the oestrogen and progesterone that women’s ovaries no longer produce after menopause. It greatly reduces or eliminates many menopausal symptoms in most women and also lowers the risk of osteoporosis and fractures experienced by 60 percent of older women. There is evidence that HRT may reduce thickening of the arteries in women starting therapy soon after menopause, but it does not help, or may even increase, heart problems in older women with established heart disease who start HRT in later life.
While it is not for everyone, your doctor might suggest HRT if:
‘Frequent hot flushes interfere with your regular activities
‘You are at an increased risk of osteoporosis
‘Vaginal dryness and tissue changes make sex uncomfortable
‘You have symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, joint pains, palpitations, muddled thinking or short-term memory loss
As there may be extra risks, specialist advice about HRT is advisable after:
‘Breast or endometrial (uterine lining) cancer
‘Blood clots or a clotting disorder
The decision to undergo HRT is a highly personal one, made with your doctor after exploring your options and considering your health status and medical history. After careful consideration, you and your doctor may decide that the benefits of HRT significantly outweigh the risks.
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