Menopause could lead to vaginal dryness, insomnia, and hot flushes. Some menopausal women take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to relieve difficult symptoms of menopause.

But like many medications, it also comes with a risk of developing diseases. Cleveland Clinic stated that those menopausal women who still have their uterus could have an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer.

 Women With Menopause Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy Has Increased Risk of Developing Cancer
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
An illustration depicting hormone replacement therapy.

How Does Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Work?

According to Cleveland Clinic, hormone replacement therapy boosts the body's hormone levels and relieves the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, urinary urgency, insomnia, mood swings or irritability, and dry skin. Taking HRT should be discussed with a healthcare provider, especially about its benefits and risks associated with HRT.

There are two main types of HRT: estrogen therapy, and estrogen-progesterone/progestin hormone therapy (EPT). The first kind is only taking low doses of estrogen hormon as prescribed by doctors. It could either be a patch, a pill, cream, vaginal cream, gel, or spray that is taken every day.

Meanwhile, EPT is a combined therapy wherein doses of estrogen and progesterone are both taken. The synthetic form of progesterone is called progestin.

HRT Increases Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Express reported that boosting estrogen and progesterone hormone levels via HRT could increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer or also known as womb cancer.

They cited NHS who said that the risk of developing womb cancer because of HRT is associated with the body's exposure to estrogen. Unbalanced hormone levels between estrogen and progesterone can cause endometrium cells to divide and increase the risk of cancer.

Endometrial cancer could lead to unusual vaginal bleeding, loss of appetite, blood clots, pelvic pain, bloating, and changes in bowel or bladder habits, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Some risk factors include obesity, age, and having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Moreover, Cleveland Clinic added that there is also an increased risk of having gall bladder problems and breast cancer with long-term use of HRT. But this does not mean that HRT will cause these life-threatening diseases.

ALSO READ: Menopause Can Start Earlier Than You Think: Here's What You Need To Know

Alternative Ways to Controlling Menopause Symptoms

The National Health Service (NHS) identified some alternative ways of controlling menopause symptoms, such as focusing on lifestyle measures through regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, reduced intake of coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, as well as quitting smoking.

Moreover, they also suggest taking medicines like tibolone that is similar to HRT but is only suitable for menopausal women who had their last period more than one year ago. Some anti-depressants can also help with hot flushes and night sweats, although they also carry their risks. Lastly, the non-hormonal medicine clonidine has similar effects as anti-depressants but has few benefits only.

There are more alternatives or remedies to menopause symptoms but many are not recommended because of some issues with their safety and effectiveness.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Deal With Symptoms of Menopause?

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