Should Women Stop Taking MHT After Menopause?

When I hadn’t started experiencing perimenopausal symptoms such as insomnia and hot flashes by age 47 or so, I thought maybe I’d dodged that particular bullet. Especially since my mom, who’d had a rough time of it, had started warning me about what to watch for about ten years earlier.

I may have even given myself a pat on the back. Perhaps my mostly vegetarian diet and regular exercise routine had protected me, I reasoned.

Ha.

Not long afterward, Mother Nature smacked me upside the head. My periods became more irregular, and sufficiently heavy that I became too anemic to continue donating blood. Then there were the full body surges of flaming temperatures woke me up multiple times per night— and nearly every time, whatever top I was wearing to be would be wringing wet. 

As you might imagine, that kind of ongoing sleep disruption can leave you crabby and cloudy-minded at the very least. 

Non-drug strategies didn’t do a darned thing. Natural remedies like red clover or soy extract didn’t interest me, in part because they haven’t been well-studied for effectiveness or safety. My doctor also pointed out that even if the compounds they contain could theoretically relieve symptoms, the products might not contain amounts big enough to actually work. And I definitely wanted what he termed a ‘therapeutic dose’. 

Hormone therapy didn’t banish my symptoms completely, but it did diminish them enough to significantly improve my quality of life.

But should women who are taking menopausal hormone therapy consider stopping at some point? And if so, when? 

A Good Times reader wrote in hoping I could offer an answer in my Your Health Questions column. And my publisher agreed it was a worthy topic, so she assigned it, and the piece ran in the Winter 2022 issue. You can read it here.

My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Wendy Wolfman, the director of the Menopause Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, for so generously sharing her time and expertise with me for a second time.

I spoke to Dr. Wolfman a few months ago for a related column on help for hot flashes, which you can read here.

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