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Women’s Health Expert Marla Ahlgrimm Addresses Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

January 15, 2015

Marla AhlgrimmMarla Ahlgrimm recently answered some questions about one of the most popular prescribed treatment methods for menopause, HRT. Below is a summary of the Q&A session.

Q: Do all women need hormone replacement therapy?

Marla Ahlgrimm: No, hormone therapy helps women whose menopausal symptoms are severe and affecting their quality of life. Women need to discuss with their doctor whether their symptoms are serious enough to warrant taking hormones.

Q: Which factors determine whether hormone therapy is right for me?

Marla Ahlgrimm: There are several factors, including age, personal or family history of breast cancer or clotting disorders, and whether or not you’ve had a hysterectomy.

Q: Are there any other ways to help ease my menopausal symptoms?

Marla Ahlgrimm: There are many things women can do to curb symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and lost libido. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques can help. Smokers need to quit today. Also, lubricants can greatly ease vaginal dryness and heighten sexual sensation.

Q: Besides relieving menopausal symptoms, are there any additional benefits of hormone therapy?

Marla Ahlgrimm: In addition to relieving menopausal symptoms, the estrogen in hormone therapy can also lower a woman’s risk of colon cancer, and help protect bone strength.

Q: What about risks?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Women should know that hormone therapy is not risk-free. In some women, hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke.  It’s important to talk to your doctor, weighing the risks against the benefits.

Q: Is individualized hormone therapy determined by symptoms or tests?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Hormone therapy is based on symptoms. Dosing can be adjusted so that the symptom relief is maximized. But there is no specific hormonal level that correlates exactly with a particular symptom.

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