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Sweating Out Hormone Therapy Risks

Sweating Out Hormone Therapy Risks

Forty-two years ago, when All in the Family’s Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton) headed for menopause, she declared, “I feel like I’m jumping in and out of a hot maze and somebody’s twisting a rubber band around my head.”

Back then we were trying to figure out how best to manage menopause symptoms and if there were risks associated with hormone therapy (HT). Now we know the first line of defense against hot flashes, brain fog and heart palpitations is losing weight if you need to, avoiding inflammatory saturated and trans fats, added sugars and syrups and getting moderate exercise to reset your thermostat to “cooler”.

We also know—after years of debate—that women who aren’t at increased risk for breast cancer or heart disease can benefit from HT. Hormone therapy should start before age 60, last for up to five years and deliver bioequivalent estrogen and micronized progesterone (if you have a uterus) in the lowest effective dose.

Unfortunately, a woman’s stroke risk doubles during the 10 years after her periods stop. And taking HT seems to increase that risk. That’s why we suggest you ask your doc about taking two low-dose aspirin a day while on HT. Hormone therapy involves replacing the hormones that decline during menopause, primarily estrogen and progesterone. It may contain estrogen alone, progesterone alone or a combination of both of these hormones. They can be delivered into the body by pills, injection, cream, patch, spray, vaginal ring, vaginal tablet or intrauterine device.

And research reveals another way to make HT safe for you: Getting 210-300 minutes of moderate exercise (walking) per week. It reduces your stroke risk 20 percent—right away. So if menopause symptoms are interfering with sleep, work, love life and happiness, talk to your doc about all these ways to, as Archie Bunker would say, “Stifle it!”

Related: Why is hormone therapy controversial?

Medically reviewed in February 2019.

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