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What are the main benefits and drawbacks of hormone replacement therapy?

Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT as it's commonly known, is used to reestablish women's natural levels of oestrogen, particularly after the menopause.

During 'the change' the ovaries gradually stop producing oestrogen (the female hormone) which can lead to a whole host of problems including depression, vaginal dryness and osteoporosis. Hormone replacement therapy effectively prevents these conditions from developing

However, HRT is by no means a garden or roses. There are almost as many potential drawbacks of the treatment as there are advantages...

The benefits of HRT
- usually stops hot and cold flushes
- prevents vaginal dryness
- helps protect against osteoporosis (thinning bones)
- can help preventing heart disease
- stops the skin and mood change the menopause causes
- can help prevent of colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer

The drawbacks of HRT
- direct side effects can include weigh gain, headaches, mood swings and permanently tender breasts
- an increased risk of thrombosis (blood clots)
- can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding
- small increased risk of developing breast cancer
- slight increased risk of developing gallstones

So how can you possibly make a decision? Well, each individual case is different and where HRT may be advisable for one woman, it may not be for another. You should obviously consult your GP and other medical experts but ultimately the decision has to be made by you.

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