The rise of HRT medication has offered relief to millions of women suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Due to declining oestrogen levels, women can suffer from symptoms ranging from hot flushes to night sweats. For many women, HRT has been a wonder drug that has offered a significant improvement in their quality of life. The benefits in this regard are quite startling, with hot flushes reduced by an average of 18 a week with severity reduced by 87% when compared with placebo.
However, a range of studies has highlighted the need for control in the prescription and use of HRT, due to an increased risk of further health complications. A recent study has found that there is an increased risk of certain cancers when HRT is taken over a long period of time, although this risk level subsides once the treatment has ended. The study by researchers at the University of Oxford has led some health experts to call for a review in how this medication is prescribed.
However, the MHRA have stated that 'our advice has always been that the lowest effective dose of HRT should be used for the shortest possible time.' Whilst this advice is not likely to change in the near future, they followed that 'we will evaluate the findings of this study and its implications for the shorter-term use and update product information as necessary.' This opens the door for possible changes in the administration guidelines of this medication.
The key issue here is weighing the health benefits of HRT treatment against the possible risks. Despite possible health risks, hormone replacement therapy is still the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause. In fact, many health experts argue that for some groups, the benefits of HRT outweigh the potential risks. For these groups, there are risks of future health complications from untreated menopause, meaning that HRT may be the right choice. Women who have experienced early menopause are the group most likely to fully benefit from HRT due to the increased health risks this causes.
Whilst a pragmatic approach may be needed following the recent studies looking into the dangers of HRT, it must be remembered that for some groups of women the benefits outweigh the risks.