Hormone Therapy and Its Side Effects
The reason why hormone therapy is often confused with estrogen therapy is because both are used interchangeably. Hormone therapy is a generic term for a form of treatment in which estrogen is administered in females who have had hysterectomy (removal of uterus) or a combined therapy with estrogen and progestin in women with uterus.
On the flip side, the estrogen therapy, ET specifically refers to the administration of estrogen so that post-menopausal women can cope with its deficiency. However, recent research has concluded that increased estrogen can raise the risk of uterine cancer. To avoid this situation a hormonal balance must be created with the administration of hormone equivalent to progesterone which is progestrin in this case.
When the two hormones estrogen and progestrin are given together, it is called EPT or combination hormone therapy. The need for any of the above mentioned therapy arises when the women gets uncontrolled signs of menopause and hot flashes.
Highlighting the down side
When many females are on hormone therapy, it’s not an easy road to recovery. Certain side-effects are inevitable. Some are more serious than others but the minor ones are more frequent and common. The fairly common symptoms are nausea, headache and pain in breast. However, we cannot say conclusively that whether these symptoms are due to progestrin or estrogen.
Depending upon the persistence of side-effects, the doctor can change the course of treatment by altering the dose of one of the two hormones. Moving on to the serious risks of hormone therapy, the patient will experience them if the therapy is continued for years.
Women on estrogen therapy without the balance of progestrin run the risk of getting endometrial cancer. They should either have the uterus removed through surgery or take progestrin that protects endothelium. If due the some reason, the patient cannot be given progestrin as a combination therapy, then the doctor will suggest annual tests for the uterus. A female on hormone therapy who has had her uterus removed will be spared from this form of cancer.
Another common looming danger is that of breast cancer. Increase in estrogen hormone levels can create certain complications and the risk of this form of cancer is minor but cannot be avoided.
Hormone therapy leads to an increased chance of developing vein clots within the legs and the lungs. If your health is at stake due to some reason, or there is a medical disposition of vein clots formation within the family, then the possibility cannot be ignored. A healthy woman has nothing to worry about but you still need to get regular check-ups to avoid the chances.
Heart diseases are more likely after hormone therapy despite the fact that estrogen is involved in lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. The females are still more prone to heart attack especially if had a heart disease history that you didn’t knew about.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a symptom that occurs in some post-menopausal women. However after hormone therapy, this symptom can emerge more strongly in some patients. In fact, the patient is mentally prepared for expected bleeding if she is on cyclic therapy. On the flip side, unexpected bleeding is heavy and lasts for long durations. If the therapy is continuous and long, the bleeding can last for months to about a year.
Stroke is another major concern for hormone therapy patients. Even the stats have supported an elevated risk of stroke in females who are administered estrogen for about a year.