How often should you do hormone therapy?

Hormone therapy is most commonly used to treat common menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. Hormone replacement therapy is a medication that contains female hormones. The medication is taken to replace the estrogen that the body stops producing during menopause. Hormone replacement therapy can usually be taken for up to five years. Howell explained that the risks increase and generally outweigh the benefits.

However, some people may be able to follow hormone therapy for longer, depending on their health and family medical history. If you're 60 or younger and have hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, or sleep disturbances, and your last menstrual period was less than 10 years ago, hormone therapy may be right for you. If you've never had a hysterectomy and you still have a uterus, you'll also need a hormone called progestin. In addition to reducing symptoms, people who receive hormone therapy often experience a better quality of life, better general health, and better bone health when taking the medication for less than five years.

The daily pill and patch are the most popular, but the hormone is also available in the form of a vaginal ring, gel, or spray. Some research suggests that combination hormone therapy may protect against heart attacks in women who start combination therapy within 10 years of menopause and who are younger than 60. Here, Dr. Jennifer Howell, an obstetrician, gynecologist and certified menopause specialist, answers to the most frequently asked questions about hormone therapy.

When hormone replacement therapy is used for more than five years, the risks of blood clots, stroke, and breast cancer (specifically when using drugs that contain progesterone) may increase as you age and the longer you take the medication. As researchers learn more about hormone therapy and other treatments for menopause, recommendations may change. Hormone therapy is a medical treatment that can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends FDA-approved hormone therapy instead of compound hormone therapy.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) Combined hormone therapy and estrogen-only therapy are associated with a small risk of stroke and blood clots from deep vein thrombosis. Hormone replacement therapy focuses primarily on replacing estrogen that the body no longer produces after menopause. People over 60 who start hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, so they don't usually recommend hormone replacement therapy because the risks outweigh the benefits. If you decide to undergo hormone therapy, you and your obstetrician gynecologist should talk every year about advisability to continue with hormone therapy.

You and your doctor should consider all of these risks when deciding if hormone therapy might be an option for you.