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Post Hysterectomy

A Brief Overview of the Women's Health Initiative Study

After a woman has a hysterectomy, her doctor will start her on a hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This is simply a treatment that's designed to replace the hormones that will be lost through the hysterectomy; it staves off certain medical conditions including menopause and osteoporosis.

Hormone replacement therapy treatments use synthetic hormones that are designed in laboratories instead of a woman's body. However, those synthetic hormones will act like the natural hormones she has in her body.

Years ago doctors would prescribe HRT, hoping it would protect the woman from certain diseases along with treating any menopause symptoms. Some of the diseases that doctors were hoping to prevent included:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis

For some women, the benefits outweigh the risks; for other woman, the risks outweigh the benefits. Women need to speak with their doctor about the hormone replacement therapy to see if it is good for them.

An Overview of the Women's Health Initiative

The National Institutes of Health conducted a set of studies dubbed the Women's Health Initiative. Researchers for the WHI gathered together information about women who have gone through menopause, as well as information about these women's overall health. The reason behind the HRT trial was to study the effects of the therapy on a woman's health, and to see if the woman developed breast and/or colorectal cancers, heart disease or osteoporosis once she had been through menopause.

Whom Did the Study Involve?

There were two groups of women involved with the trial. Women who have undergone a hysterectomy were in one group. Women who were postmenopausal with no hysterectomy were in the other group.

The first group was given a placebo or estrogen during the trial. The second group took a combination of estrogen and progestin or the placebo.

Trial Stopped Due to Complications

The trial was to end in 2005. However, in 2002, the combination therapy was halted due to risks that were found with combination HRT. Those risks outweighed the benefits that were supposed to result from the HRT trial.

What kinds of risks were found? Women who used HRT over a long period of time were found to be prone to blood clots, breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

People Who Are Taking HRT Currently

Women should never stop taking their medications without first speaking with their doctor. If she is concerned about the risks, her doctor will consider the symptoms, and will consider whether or not the woman is at risk for developing any diseases based on the medication.

If there's too much of a risk, there are three things the doctor may choose to do. They are:

  • Lowering the dose of medicine
  • Switching to another kind of treatment
  • Stopping the current treatment altogether

Unless there is a big risk, a woman's current treatment is likely to stay the same.

Using HRT For Long-Term Use

Should a woman consider using hormone replacement therapy for long-term use? This question can be answered with a simple deduction. First, a woman should understand that HRT does offer protection against certain kinds of illnesses such as colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis.

If a woman's risks of developing the above diseases is high and she has little to no chance of developing breast cancer and/or heart disease, then HRT can be quite effective for long-term use.

It's very important that a woman and her doctor talk about the risks and benefits of HRT.

Can Menopausal Symptoms Be Treated With Any Other Options?

If you wish not to do hormone replacement therapy, there are other alternatives. For instance, there are antidepressants, herbal supplements, soy products and vaginal estrogen creams. There are also more medications on the market that a woman's doctor can prescribe. By talking with her doctor, the two together can discern what treatment is best.

One of the more important things to remember is to maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and exercise on a regular basis.


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