Quality Of Life With HRT
The results of a vast and lengthy trial on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prove that postmenopausal women treated with HRT have better quality of life. Wisdom (Women’s International Study of long Duration Oestrogen after Menopause) published its results on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website in August of 2008. 2130 postmenopausal women in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand were observed to see what impact the combined therapy of estrogen and progesterone had on their lives.
The women were, on average, 13 years past menopause, and most no longer exhibited the symptoms of menopause. Professor Alastair MacLennan, leading the Australian WISDOM team, said that many of the symptoms seen in menopausal women, such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and joint pain, were less often found in women of this age group on HRT. MacLennan, who heads the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Adelaide in Australia, commented that the sex lives of the women were also improved.
MacLennan further stated that even when women were past the stage when such symptoms would be expected to occur; there was a slight improvement in sexuality, sleep, and joint pain. The downside is that the women on HRT experienced more breast tenderness and discharge than did those taking the placebo.
The head of WISDOM’s New Zealand branch, Dr. Beverley Lawton said, “These new data should be added to the risk/benefit equation for HRT. The quality of life benefits of HRT may be greater in women with more severe symptoms near menopause.”
Lawton also stated that HRT taken close to the time of menopause circumvents the cardiovascular risks that are seen with HRT when treatment is begun long after menopause. MacLennan commented that studies like the one conducted by WISDOM, “…enable the risks of HRT to be reduced and its benefits maximized when the treatment is individualized to each woman.”
MacLennan feels that the side effects seen when HRT is begun early can be reduced by adjusting dosage. In women with severe symptoms of menopause, the researcher feels that HRT far outweigh any risks posed by the treatment. A recent analysis of an important trial on HRT by The Women’s Health Initiative found that the risk of breast cancer is no higher in women taking HRT containing only estrogen. In those women using the combined hormone therapy of estrogen and progesterone, there is only a very slight increase and only after seven years of continued treatment. This slight risk amounts to a mere 0.1% per year of treatment. MacLennan suggests that women can try going off of HRT every 4 years or so to see how they feel. Patients and physicians can then make informed choices about continued treatment with HRT.