Latest word on estrogen
Submitted by: Marc Gittelman
Submitted on: July 17 2007
Q: I am going through menopause and my hot flashes and vaginal dryness are driving me and my husband crazy. I read a few years ago that hormones are dangerous. Is there any new information?
A: Any woman going through menopause can have very serious and detrimental changes to her sexuality. Until several years ago, many women were placed on estrogen with an excellent chance to diminish hot flashes and regain physical sexual arousal. Then came a study known as the Women’s Health Initiative, indicating that taking estrogen increases the risk for heart disease. The newest data is reassuring. High-tech heart scans were used to follow up on these studies. Research indicated that those taking estrogen were 30 percent to 40 percent less likely to have calcium blockages that can clod coronary arteries. The timing of when the hormones are started is crucial. Women who started their estrogen during menopause benefited with decreased heart disease, but those who started their hormone replacement 10 years later actually had more heart disease. These data apply only to women on estrogen who do not have a uterus and do not include those being treated with both estrogen and progesterone.
The data show that estrogen can actually be helpful to the heart health of perimenopausal women. If you are in the perimenopausal years, ask your gynecologist whether estrogen is right for you.