The National Institutes of Health launched the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study in 1993 to study hormone effects on preventiva of disease. In 2002 the study was stopped because some of the participants who were taking estrogen plus progestin had an increase in hearts disease and stroke compared to those taking placebo. The media jumped on the news, omitted some of the details, exaggerated others, and women (and healthcare providers alike) became very scared of HT. And what a disservice to women’s health and quality of life that was! In fright one of my patients threw her estrogen tablets down the toilet, literally! She came to me a few days later for help!
Now, many years since the first WHI results, trial data shows that the risks of hormone therapy (HT) vary with women’s age and when it is initiated in relation to the start of menopause.
HT is more beneficial for younger women, under 60, (with no contraindications) who begin HT sooner rather than later, within 10 years of menopause. For women with menopause that impacts function and quality of life, the benefits of HT generally outweigh the risks.
Hormone therapy includes estrogen therapy, estrogen-progesterone therapy, and progesterone-only therapy. HT helps hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, improves sleep, prevents bone loss, and more. Local HT, applied directly into the vagina, improves vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, helps prevent urinary tract infections and GSM.
But HT it’s not a “one size fits all”. The type of HT, timing, dose, the way it is administered and the duration should be personalized based on women’s health history.
Contact me if you want to know if HT is appropriate and safe for you.