Does it matter at what age I begin taking hormone therapy treatment?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
It does matter what age you begin hormone therapy. Since we learned that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can potentially cause some life-threatening health problems, we are very particular about who takes it. So we like to reserve it for women who have moderate to severe menopausal symptoms and are unable to cope with them using other strategies. Estrogen therapy could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke; this is especially true for women who take it later in life. That means, if a woman takes HRT 10 years or more after she starts menopause, the risks are much higher. It also raises the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The risk of breast cancer is also raised, especially if combination HRT is used (estrogen plus a progestin rather than just estrogen). So older women (women in their 60s) are taking more of a risk than younger women when starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

There is also a group of women that enter menopause at a much earlier age than women normally do (usually between 47 and 55). These women often take hormone therapy because their bodies will have been deprived of estrogen for a much longer period of time, and that can bring on a host of other health problems. So hormone therapy in these younger menopausal women may actually be beneficial to their health in the long run.

We don't have a one-size-fits-all solution for women facing symptoms of menopause. The best advice I have for you is, if you and your doctor have talked about this in detail and decided on a course of HRT, you should re-evaluate your need for it every few months. This way you will get weaned off it as soon as possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.