THREE little letters can be pretty incendiary if you’re a woman of a certain age.
HRT, hormone replacement therapy, is something most women have a pretty strong opinion about.
But drill down a bit and quite often the ladies I speak to aren’t sure where their opinions come from.
Some of the patients I talk to haven’t done any research themselves — they simply pass on the opinion of a friend.
Some resolutely tell me they’ve read it could give them breast cancer, so are adamant they don’t want it.
But those fears stem from a flawed study that was done in the US and published in 2002.
Whatever your opinion on HRT, I can assure you of three things. Firstly, I have been a GP for more than a decade.
Secondly, as a female I have a vested interest in menopause because I’ll go through it at some point. And finally, everything you’re about to read is based on evidence — so forget what you think you know.
Let me be clear: For most women, HRT is a safe option, with small risks which are often outweighed by the large benefits it can bring. Those risks do include a very small increased chance of contracting breast cancer.
But, it’s vital to remember that some of these small risks can be reduced, simply by changing how you give a woman HRT.
For example, giving oestrogen through the skin instead of orally decreases the risk of developing blood clots.
While there may be small long-term risks, there are also long-term benefits.
These include reducing the risk of osteoporosis, as well as offering potential benefits against bowel cancer, osteoarthritis, heart disease and cataracts.
There are 34 recognised symptoms of menopause, and they can cause issues in almost every area of our lives, from work to family, friends and mental health.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, which usually happens when a woman is between the age of 45 and 55.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.
It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline.
During this time periods become less frequent or they can suddenly stop, and after menopause occurs women will be unable to become pregnant naturally.
Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.
Many celebrities have spoken out about their own experiences, including Lisa Snowdon, Davina McCall, Michelle Heaton and Zoe Hardman.
What are the symptoms?
Menopausal symptoms can start months or years before your periods stop, and can last until four years or longer after your last period.
That’s because… Brinkwire Brief News.