How Do I Go Off Hormone Replacement Therapy Safely?

I’m a 57 year old woman who’s been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) since I was 44. I’m considering going off HRT for awhile. I work out, do aerobics and am in excellent health. If I decide to go off, how can I do it safely?

Sounds as if you lead a very healthy, prevention-oriented lifestyle. Keep up the good work!

Hormone therapy generally refers to a combination of estrogen and progestin. It is very effective at treating the short-term effects of menopause that some women experience, such as hot flashes. However, at age 57, you are probably past that stage.

The question now is whether the possible benefits of HRT outweigh any risks. It is likely that HRT reduces the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis and maybe Alzheimer’s disease. But there is also a chance that it raises the risk of breast cancer and other conditions. It is also possible that the risks increase the longer you take the drugs.

I wish I could give you an easy answer on HRT, but it is something you need to discuss in depth with your gynecologist. Together, you can assess your family history of disease, the preventive lifestyle measures you are taking, and then compare the risks and benefits of continuing or stopping the therapy.

If you do decide to stop, it probably makes sense to do so gradually instead of abruptly — but again, talk with your doctor.

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