Unless you have specific health problems that make prolonged HRT not advisable, this is a safe treatment plan that can continue indefinitely. There are even certain medical conditions that can be prevented with long-term hormone replacement. If in doubt, consult your doctor. There's no limit to how long you can take HRT, but talk to a family doctor about how long they recommend taking the treatment.
When should you start taking HRT? Is it too late to begin? If you've been taking it for years, when should you think about quitting HRT? These are common questions asked by women who have gone through menopause some time ago. Some women take hormone therapy for a few years to help reduce the worst symptoms of menopause. Some women find that when they stop taking hormone replacement therapy after a few years, they have no more symptoms. Other women have a return of symptoms when they stop taking hormone replacement therapy.
There is no fixed period of time during which you should take HRT; it's an individual decision between you and your doctor or nurse. This fact sheet includes information to help you decide if now is the right time to start or stop taking hormone replacement therapy, even if menopause occurred several years ago. This is often because they feel better and have more energy when they take hormone therapy; they also want to protect their future health from long-term conditions associated with low estrogen levels, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Women who take HRT for more than 1 year have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who never use HRT.
Finding the right answer means considering your specific health situation while understanding the latest research on HRT and weighing the benefits against the risks. Others will try to stop hormone replacement therapy after a few years, but may start taking it again if their symptoms return and persist. You may have been very concerned about the safety of hormone replacement therapy or that other health professionals have advised you not to use it. The best way to understand the duration of hormone therapy is to talk to your doctor or medical professional so that they can discuss your symptoms and needs, as well as the benefits and risks.
Perhaps, years later, you are reconsidering this possibility and HRT is becoming an increasingly attractive option for you. A family doctor can explain the different types of HRT available to you and help you choose the one that's right for you. The increased risk of breast cancer decreases after you stop taking HRT, but there is a certain increase in risk for more than 10 years compared to women who have never used HRT. Women are often surprised when menopausal symptoms return after stopping hormone therapy, even women who have taken it for many years. If you've weighed the information in this fact sheet and decided that quitting HRT is the right decision for you, it's generally recommended that you lower your estrogen dose gradually, every few days, for a few weeks.
You may decide to start HRT now because your symptoms have worsened or you expected them to have disappeared by now, but that's not the case. Contact a family doctor if you have symptoms that persist for several months after you stop HRT or if you have particularly severe symptoms.