Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be controversial, and a recent study reveals a finding that may sway your decision.

Menopausal Decisions

Post-menopausal women as well as those in the throes, are either curious, confused, determined, or shun the use of HRT. Over the years, theories of whether hormone treatment is safe, effective, or potentially harmful have been bandied about. A new study reveals that memory and thinking skills are not necessarily protected when estrogen is taken after menopause.

To clarify, HRT doesn’t affect cognition in the positive way many believed it would. The study found that changes in mental ability did not occur (in those engaged in estrogen therapy.) It was once noted that depending on when women started the therapy made a difference on its positive neurological effects. As it turns out, there’s no important benefit “cognitive-wise”, no matter when women begin HRT.

And the Doctor Says…

Dr. Victor Henderson was a lead researcher on this over five-year study. He’s a professor of Neurological Science and Health Research and Policy at Stanford University School of Medicine. He and other scientists included 570 healthy women in the research program. The age of the women ranged from 41 to 84.

Some subjects were given Estradiol every day for about five years, while the others were given a placebo. Additionally, the entire group was divided in half. One was an early menopause group, those who hadn’t had their last period for six years or less. The late group was comprised of women who hadn’t had a period in 10 years at least.

Memory and thinking tests were conducted on all the women in the study. They were tested two-and-a-half years later, and then again at the five-year mark. Those on HRT weren’t protected from mental decline any more than those who took the placebo.

Alternately, Dr. Henderson noted that long-term HRT use, instead, might deteriorate cognitive ability. He points to a study that is currently ongoing in the U.S., which suggests that HRT use among older women increased the risk of dementia.

Why Do It?

The effects and symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman. Mood swings, overheating, and a lowered metabolism may be the worse for one. While, however, extreme night sweats, unbearable anxiety, insomnia, and severe depression may be par the course for another. In the latter case, hormone replacement therapy can be a saving grace.

We know there are risks involved such as decreased bone and cardio health when using hormone therapy. But individuals need to weigh their hazards and benefits for their unique situation. It is a blessing to have medically-created relief, but understanding alternatives may also help in choosing what’s ultimately best for you.

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