What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

There are calls for larger-scale heart disease studies to be undertaken, such as those that have already been done with regard to men’s cardiovascular health, to determine the final answer to this question. What is known concretely today is that for women, death from heart disease is eight times greater than death from breast cancer, which afflicts one in nine American women. (More about breast cancer in Chapter 7. More about coronary heart disease in Chapter 9.)

What happens when you stop taking ERT? Either all or some of your symptoms will return, or you will have passed through the period of time during which overt symptoms will bother you. However, the protective and nourishing effect of ERT on the many organs and processes of your body will also cease.

Is there a time after which the parts of my

BODY HEART, BONES, BLADDER, VAGINA NO LONGER NEED ERT?

There are a number of opinions on this point. Some experts believe that you should take the smallest am-nount of ERT (or estrogen and progestin therapy, HRT, if you have a uterus) that you can take that still alleviates your symptoms, and that you should take it for the shortest amount of time. If you are taking it only to get rid of certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, that probably means taking it for approximately two years. However, in order for ERT to provide effective osteoporosis protection, you should probably continue ERT until the process of bone loss begins naturally to slow down, which is usually around age sixty-five. (Osteoporosis questions are answered in Chapter 8.) Regarding the question of whether or not ERT offers protection from heart disease, the jury is still out, although the verdict as of this writing seems to point to continuing therapy. The question of when to quit should be discussed thoroughly with your physician. Do not ever alter or stop taking ERT without your physician s knowledge and approval.

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