A few friends of mine have to take hormone replacement therapy for a variety of reasons—only one is regular menopause—and after researching HRT, I have to admit that it has some pretty awesome perks in the long run when used in certain cases. The thing is, it can also increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots—depending on when you start it. Studies show that the benefits only outweigh the risks of HRT when you take the therapy soon after menopause begins.
For example, women who take HRT within two years of their last period do not experience these health problems generally, but instead find themselves with reduced hot flashes and vaginal dryness as well as reduced chances of heart disease. Any women taking HRT may benefit from reduced hot flashes, vaginal itching and dryness, and more comfortable intercourse, but in order to get the benefits to the heart, it must typically commence in that brief period following the woman’s final period.
Women who take HRT may also have a lower risk of both bone fractures and colorectal cancer as well. Generally women who begin the therapy before age 60 experience the most positive results.