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HRT: 4 Common Questions

Have you been struggling with the symptoms of menopause for a while but don’t know whether to go on HRT? Hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats and anxiety can seriously impact the quality of your life, but it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. Here we try to answer some common questions, to help you decide whether or not HRT is right for you. 


1.  What are the risks of taking HRT?

When it comes to HRT, the main issue women worry about is the increased incidence of breast cancer. It can be confusing, as health professionals themselves often disagree about the levels of risk, and in recent years many women have found that their GPs have been reluctant to prescribe HRT. According to the NICE guidelines there is a ‘small increased risk’ of breast cancer, but what does this actually mean?

Our menopause specialist Ms Tania Adib says ‘Whilst there is a link with breast cancer, it’s important to put it in context. For example, an extra 4 women out of 1000 will get breast cancer if they are on HRT for five years, compared to those that aren’t. This is for the 50-59 age group.’ She adds, ‘If you want to think about it in a different way, this is the same level of risk associated with drinking two glasses of wine a day or taking the contraceptive pill’.

HRT tablets can also slightly increase your risk of blood clots. However, this risk disappears if you are using modern forms of the medication such as patches, gels and sprays, as they are absorbed through the skin, rather than your liver.  


2.  What are the benefits of taking HRT?

The biggest advantage of HRT for most women, is of course, that they can get on with their lives – it can reduce menopause symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, vaginal dryness and incontinence. These are not just minor inconveniences – they can negatively impact significant areas of your life - for example, 10% of women report having to leave a job because of menopause symptoms.

HRT works by replenishing the declining oestrogen levels in our bodies, which helps keep our blood vessels supple and free from fatty deposits. This has many advantages which you might not be aware of: it lowers the risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke.

There are also other significant health benefits that are important to consider. HRT protects against osteoporosis, which is one of the main long-term causes of poor health and mortality in women. It can also help maintain our muscle mass and improve conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


3.  Does HRT work straight away?

Many women find their symptoms improve immediately, but others may find that it takes time. It can take a few visits to your doctor or specialist and some tweaks to find the right medication and the correct dosage, so it’s important not to give up if things aren’t working straight away. You also might find you need to increase your oestrogen levels as time goes on, or perhaps add testosterone.


4.  Are there alternatives to HRT?

Millions of women find that HRT has transformed their lives, but it isn’t always right for everyone. Here at The Medical Chambers Kensington we believe that treating menopause is not exclusively about HRT. Our specialist gynaecologists work alongside other practitioners such as nutritionists and endocrinologists, to create a tailored treatment plan based on your individual needs. 

If you don’t wish to go down the path of HRT or find that it isn’t working, we will help you explore the alternatives. Changes to your diet, a new exercise routine, and treatments such as radiofrequency can have a huge impact on your symptoms, but it’s good to remember that finding a plan that’s best for you can take some experimentation.


Visit our clinic

If you are experiencing menopause symptoms and would like to find out more about treatments, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.