Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a medical treatment that involves administering hormones, typically oestrogen and progesterone, to women to relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Over the years it has been rumoured to be connected to various health issues and the last few weeks have seen further negative, frightening headlines declaring a link between HRT usage and Dementia. The report focuses on an extensive study conducted in Denmark which looked at women who took HRT long-term and those who went on to develop Dementia later in life.
Just reading those headlines may send individuals rushing to throw away their HRT. However, if the study is broken down it can help settle some nerves and worries about the medication.
A break down of the study
Firstly, the study itself was “observational” (a study looking at the medical histories of a large group of women who were taking HRT and who went on to develop Dementia) not a randomised–controlled trial which compares a trial subject with a placebo or alternative one
In this study, it did not look at the reasons why the individuals were prescribed the medication, I.e., if they were taking it to relieve vaso-motor symptoms, (hot flushes & night sweats) or mental health symptoms like brain fog or memory issues. If it were the latter, were these symptoms menopause-related or were they in fact early-onset dementia?
In addition, many of the women in the study had taken the older type of HRT which had a higher risk of blood clots and therefore, an increased risk of strokes and vascular dementia. The transdermal forms of HRT contain an oestrogen which is more closely structured to that of natural oestrogen and does not have the same risk of blood clots as those of the oral route.
While it is true that there needs to be more comprehensive studies conducted into the long-term effects of HRT, including both benefits and risks, the research needs to be extensive, unbiased and useful, providing reassurance for individuals instead of fear.
This study alone should not be used as a reason to stop taking HRT and, as with all medication, the risk of taking the medication should be weighed against the benefits and if the benefits outweigh the risks, it is advisable to continue until such time as the opposite occurs.
Individuals should not stop taking their medication without a discussion with their GP or healthcare professional specialist. If anyone has any concerns about their medication or the Danish report, book a one-one appointment or chat through the myTamarin app.
Sky News, (2023) HRT Used for Menopause Linked to Dementia – but it may not be due to the treatment. www.news.sky.com
McClure, P. (2023) Menopause Treatment Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia. www.newatlas.com
O’Regan, E. (2023) HRT Use for Menopause Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. www.independent.ie
Newson, L. (2023) Does HRT Raise Your Risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. www.itv.com
Walker, E. (2023) The TRUTH about HRT and Dementia – as leading GP slams flawed study. www.thesun.co.uk
In the second article in our Menopause and Chronic Conditions series, Moira looks into managing Diabetes when you are going through Menopause.Read post