Many women are looking for ways to ease the symptoms of menopause. One common way is through hormone therapy. I recent found a web resource created by The Federal Drug Administration that I want to share with you. This website lists the different types of hormone therapies – estrogen-only, progestin-only, and medications that combine estrogen and progestin.
The federal agency recommends that women interested in hormone therapy should consult their doctor before starting a regimen. Some research has found that hormone therapy may increase women’s risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. Additionally, estrogen-only therapy also may increase the chances that a woman who has a uterus may develop endometrial cancer. Therefore, women should take the lowest dose that provides relief for them for the shortest time. Women also should not take hormone therapy if they are pregnant, have unusual vaginal bleeding, have (or previously had) blood clots, have certain types of cancer, have liver problems, or have experienced a stroke or heart attack in the past year. Women who have diabetes should talk to their doctor before taking progestin-only medications.
The FDA recognizes a variety of estrogen-only medications that are currently on the market. These medications include Alora (a patch), Cenestin (a pill), Climara (a patch), Delestrogen (an injection), Divigel (a gel), Enjuvia (a pill), Estrace (a pill or vaginal cream), Estraderm (a patch), Estrasorb (a skin cream), Estring (a vaginal insert), Estrogel (a gel), Evamist (a transdermal skin spray), Femring (a vaginal ring), Femtrace (a pill), Menest (a pill), Ogen (a pill or vaginal cream), Ortho-Est (pill), Premarin (a pill, vaginal cream or injection), Vagifem (a vaginal tablet), Vivelle (a patch), and Vivelle-Dot (a patch). In addition, Menostar also is an estrogen-only therapy that is only used to prevent osteoporosis; this therapy comes as a patch. Common side effects when taking estrogen-only medications can include painful or tender breasts, stomach cramps, spotting, weight gain, nausea or an upset stomach, or hair loss. Other serious side effects that happen less often include breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, dizziness, fainting, vision problems, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in legs and vomiting.
The FDA also recognizes three progestin-only medicines: Aygestin, Prometrium and Provera. All three are available in pill form. Common side effects when taking progestin-only medications include painful or tender breasts, stomach cramps, nausea or an upset stomach, vaginal bleeding or spotting, weight gain and hair loss. Women who take these medications also may experience less common, but serious side effects, which can include breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, dizziness, fainting, vision problems, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pains and vomiting.
Seven combination-only therapies are listed by the FDA: Activella (a pill), Angeliq (a pill), Climara Pro (a patch), Combipatch (a patch), Femhrt (a pill), Prefest (a pill), and Prempro (a pill). Women who take combination medications may experience side effects that include painful or tender breasts, stomach cramps, spotting, upset stomach or nausea, weight gain or hair loss. These medications also can cause less common but serious side effects, including breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, dizziness, fainting, vision issues, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain and vomiting.
“Deciding whether to use HT (hormone therapy) is complex, and any decisions should be reviewed periodically,” said Robin N. Phillips, editor of the book, The Menopause Bible: The Complete Practical Guide to Managing Your Menopause. “You and your healthcare professional will need to think about your reasons for considering it, your general health, family medical history and lifestyle in the context of research data and the FDA recommendations. We know that HT can be beneficial in symptom relief and osteoporosis prevention, but this must be balanced against its potential drawbacks.”
Published On: October 20, 2011