Many years ago hormone therapy for women, also was said to have increased their risk of heart problems. Not only have reports of those risks been largely discredited, but also, more recent studies indicate that hormone therapy for women, as in men, may reduce the risk of heart attack.
This latest study, conducted by Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California found that woman who start hormone therapy during the earliest onset of menopausal symptoms, had a lower risk of developing heart disease leading to heart attacks later in life.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
What Did This Hormone Therapy Study Reveal?
Basically this study found that women who began hormone therapy early on during menopause, had a much lower chance of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the years ahead, then women of similar ages who did not get hormone therapy, or began hormone therapy later on.
The plaque build-up typical of hardening of the arteries is a major cause of most strokes and heart attacks.
The researchers found that women who began hormone therapy in less than six years since their last menstrual cycle, had a much slower progression of plaque deposits in arterial walls, than women taking a placebo. They also found that woman who began their hormone therapy 10 years or more after the onset of menopause did not show any less of a progression of arterial thickening than women who were not on hormone therapy at all.
This suggests that the timing of when to start hormone therapy is critical, if it is to lower the risk of heart disease.
Misconceptions about Hormone Therapy for Women
It is true that many years ago studies came out that said women who undergo hormone therapy are putting themselves at a greater risk of developing heart disease or breast cancer.
What women need to understand is that those studies were done very long ago, and have since been found to be largely flawed. The truth is, hormone therapy remains the most effective treatment for the most debilitating menopausal symptoms.
And, the general consensus among doctors today is that women undergoing hormone therapy are at no greater risk of heart attack or cancer that the general population.
Furthermore, we know much more about how to prescribe and administer hormone therapy for women now, than we did when those first studies were done decades ago.
Today, when prescribing hormone therapy for women, we use plant-based bio-identical hormones. As you may gather from the name, these hormones are identical – molecule for molecule – to the estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries, giving women much safer options.
We also know how to better prescribe hormone therapy today, thanks to better diagnostic techniques. We now can run complete blood panels to help us see exactly which hormones are off, and by how much, and design more customized hormone therapies to your particular needs.
At our clinic, HealthGAINS, we have even recently introduced genetic testing, which allows us to add fitness, diet, and exercise programs specific to your needs, that can help maximize the results of your hormone therapy.
With this more modern approach to hormone therapy we see women who experience as much as a 90% improvement in menopausal symptoms in just a few weeks.
In addition to helping alleviate hot flashes and night sweats, hormone therapy for women improves bone density, reduces the incidence of mood swings, and improves sexual problems such as loss of libido, and vaginal dryness.