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Menopause news

HRT OK for up to 5 years


At a meeting at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists yesterday, guidance on the use of HRT was published.

Experts have advised that HRT can be prescribed for control of menopausal symptoms and that for women over the age of
50, up to 5 years of use is of minimal risk. With longer use, the risks may outweigh the benefits. Risk of long-term use of HRT
relates to an increased risk of breast cancer, but the risk returns to normal after HRT is stopped.

As we have previously stressed, each case should be individualised. The decision as to whether or not to take HRT and how
long to take it should be made after a joint discussion between the woman and her health professional, taking into account the
severity of symptoms if still present and her past and medical history. It is still recommended that women who have a
premature menopause can take HRT up to 51, the average age of the menopause.

Control of menopausal symptoms is the main indication for HRT use and since it is said that 75% of women experience
significant symptoms, short-term HRT can provide benefit for many women with minimal risk. The other licensed indication for
HRT is the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. The report concluded that HRT should not be used as a first line
treatment for osteoporosis, but can be used in those at high risk if other treatments are unsuitable.

Other key points from the report confirmed previous guidance that HRT confers an increased risk of venous thrombosis and
that women already at risk should be wary of using HRT and HRT should not currently be used for prevention of heart disease
or stroke and that in some women there may be a slight increase in the risk of stroke.

Any woman currently taking HRT should simply discuss these issues at a routine review with her health professional and, as
previously emphasised, anyone taking HRT should be reviewed annually.
For further information on Risks and Benefits of HRT, see section "What is HRT" on this website.

See also previous News item: Practical recommendations on HRT

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