Breaking News – Menopause treatment is anti-ageing, says top expert

Breaking News  – Menopause treatment is anti-ageing, says top expert

Last week, one of my patients announced that she had just cancelled the facelift operation she was due to have. Delighted, she told me of her reduction in wrinkles, her youthful energy and injection of confidence.The reason? A three-month course of the NHS treatment commonly prescribed to menopausal women – hormone replacement therapy.And it’s not just my patients who are reaping the benefits. Several high-profile women over 50, including Davina McCall, Joanna Lumley and Kim Cattrall, have spoken of the life-changing effects of HRT.As a GP specialising in the menopause, I am inundated with cases of women laid low by debilitating joint pains, memory loss, migraines and depression. Many are forced to give up work due to the symptoms.Most frustrating is that they are suffering needlessly, given the effective relief usually offered by HRT medication, which is a combination of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone (and sometimes testosterone).Yet just ten per cent of those who stand to benefit are currently prescribed HRT, despite it being the gold-standard treatment recommended by the NHS watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).Why? Patients say they’ve been scared by stories linking the treatment with cancer, blood clots and early death – stories that are inaccurate. So what is the truth? Here, I explain why I believe that more women should trust in HRT…Reports last year of a slight increased risk of breast cancer linked to taking oestrogen and progesterone HRT sparked concern.Scientists believe this was due to exposure to a type of progesterone hormone which may encourage the development and growth of tumours. But the risk is still not much greater than normal.Some studies have shown that the risk is eliminated when patients take a new form of progesterone, available on the NHS, that is chemically identical to the type occurring naturally in the body.In fact, many other factors pose more of a risk for developing breast cancer than HRT: being overweight, not exercising and drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, for example.I see many women who become overweight due to energy-zapping menopause symptoms that stop them exercising. In these cases, not taking HRT is more likely to increase the risk of breast cancer.There are several circumstances in which the increased risk of breast cancer doesn’t apply, such as women taking oestrogen-only HRT after a hysterectomy, and those under the age of 45. In younger women, the HRT is simply replacing the hormones that their bodies would otherwise produce.HRT is available in many different forms, including gels, patches, tablets and implants.It is most commonly prescribed in the form of an oral pill, which evidence suggests can accelerate clotting proteins in the blood. So I offer patients the gel or patch, which does not carry a risk of blood clots as the oestrogen is absorbed through the skin, rather than affecting the liver.The gel is rubbed daily on to the arms or legs, while the patch is stuck on to the bottom or thigh, and changed twice a week.THE MENOPAUSE WON’T KICK IN WHEN YOU COME OFF ITSome women believe HRT will delay their menopause and the moment they stop the treatment, they’ll experience every symptom at once. It’s not true. The HRT effectively balances the hormones at the time of treatment and won’t change the natural time-frame of the menopause. When a woman comes off HRT, symptoms will present as though she had not taken HRT.As oestrogen levels drop1


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