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Should I take HRT? Let’s have a look at the changing landscape.

First of all, I am NOT a medical professional. I am well read on the research around HRT and have some personal experience too – more on that later. Please, please before you make any decisions around the treatment of your menopause, speak with a specialist and make an informed decision that is best for YOU – and that will look different for everyone. Just because all of your friends might take HRT, it doesn’t mean that it is right for you, and vice versa.


So first of all, what actually is HRT? HRT or hormone replacement therapy is usually used with systemic menopause symptoms like depression-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, hot flushes – and many, many more. It provides oestrogen, sometimes with progesterone, sometimes without (our female sex hormones which dwindle as we fly into the menopause). There are various ways in which it can be taken all with their own benefits or otherwise.


The research around HRT is changing the landscape of historical taboo around using it for the treatment of menopause which came from fears that putting synthetic oestrogen into our bodies may increase the risk of breast cancer. Studies have now shown that HRT might actually help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis (one of the main benefits of taking HRT as the risk significantly increases as our bodies slow down the production of oestrogen) but also risk of type two diabetes and some cancers. It is becoming increasingly accepted that for women who take HRT within 10 years of beginning their menopause before they turn 60 the benefits often outweigh the risks hugely.


So, what could those risks be?


There is some evidence to suggest that risk of blood clots, breast cancer, stroke and dementia might be increased but it is important to note that those risks are VERY small and products wouldn’t still be on the market were they not deemed to be safe; the risks also differ greatly with the type of HRT opted for alongside other factors such as age and genetics amongst others.


So, we talk about the risks and this is where historical fear mongering has come from but what is the reality? Well, the research tells us now that in every 1000 people up to 8 more cases of stroke were prevalent in those that took one form of HRT, 5 more with breast cancer (with no difference in those that took just oestrogen, rather than oestrogen and progesterone combined) and up to 9 more cases of dementia (again, no more with oestrogen alone). Now granted, these figures are based on one research study which is by no means gospel but it does go some way to show that HRT is perhaps not the devil it has been made out to be for so many years. Like I say, chat with a specialist and make a decision based on your individual situation.


I personally, was offered HRT off the back of extensive hormonal issues which are ongoing (something I spoke about in the last blog if you didn’t get chance to read). I almost pleaded medical professionals to give me some time to work out the issues with lifestyle changes alone and they agreed to 6 months – after that we’d try something new. That something new was HRT. We spoke extensively about the risks and the benefits and I came away with transdermal HRT patches and promised to try them out properly before more blood tests. I was scared. I was scared because of historical messages and also putting something into my body that didn’t necessarily belong there – something I had fought when given the pill as treatment as I no longer felt in control of my own body, my body didn’t feel allowed to do its thing – I didn’t even know what its ‘thing’ was because I didn’t know what was my body and what was medication acting anymore.


Eventually, after weeks had passed, I decided to try HRT, for a grand total of a week, got scared and stopped and started…of course it didn’t have the effect that was desired. I experienced some side effects that I didn’t like and wasn’t consistent in my approach. I didn’t practice what I preached in terms of consistency. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it won’t work if you don’t stick with it. We’re all human, none of us are immune to the fear, I absolutely understand you. All that I ask is whatever you do, be consistent, stick with it for a while before you make any wild decisions, trust yourself, your gut and what feels right. I truly believe in that. You know your own body, in tandem with the correct advice for you, better than anyone in the world.


Alongside HRT though, we have to work on getting those lifestyle practices absolutely nailed to give you the best opportunity to feel as fabulous as I know that you can into those menopausal years. I have seen many women achieve absolute vitality into the menopause using lifestyle improvements alone and should you want to try that, consistently, to begin with then I would love to be your confidant. I’m just a message away – Any questions on this stuff, I’d love to chat!


Peace and love for now, A xx

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