Hot flashes, moodiness, fatigue are symptoms that approximately 80% of American menopausal women are experiencing without relief since researchers found increased risks of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and blood clots in women who take hormones during menopause. As a result many women have gone “cold turkey” on hormone replacement therapy during menopause. However, newer formulations and drug delivery systems may afford some safer relief options for menopausal symptoms.
In early 2007 the medical journal Circulation published research suggesting some risks of hormones are significantly reduced when estrogen is delivered by a skin patch instead of a pill. Specifically, the study showed blood clots could be virtually eliminated if women switched from the pill form of hormone therapy to a skin patch. This lowered risk may be due to the patch’s drug delivery system that dispenses hormones through the skin and into the bloodstream, rather than through the gastrointestinal tract and liver before entering the bloodstream – the route of administration of a pill. Researchers also found that micronized progesterone was safer in terms of thrombotic risk than synthetic progestins. Other risks of hormone replacement therapy – such as breast cancer, heart attacks, and strokes – were not studied, no it is not known if the patch will prove safer than a pill for these risks. A large study is currently underway and may soon answer those questions.
These new findings have added to the revitalized interest in hormones for reducing menopausal symptoms. Alternative forms of hormonal therapy have surfaced since many women largely abandoned older hormonal formulations when a landmark study in 2002 frightened them from their use. Critics have long contended that different formulations and routes of administration of estrogen or progestin may affect health risks. This new study includes a large number of women and adds fuel to the fire that route of administration and type of hormone therapy alleviate some of the risks.
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Aging gracefully is not easy. If you are suffering from symptoms of menopause – hot flashes, moodiness, fatigue – help is available. Despite the hype in the media, hormone replacement therapy is a reasonable option for many health women if menopausal symptoms are severe. The risks are small for most women and taking the lowest dose, for the shortest period of time necessary to alleviate symptoms, is a low-risk way to combat menopausal discomforts. This new study suggests the patch, along with progesterone instead of synthetic progestins, can keep these risks to a minimum. Ask your doctor if the menopause patch might be a good choice for you.
(Source: Embracing Women's Health)