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Hormones: when to start and stop

To begin National Women’s Health Week, ADC menopause specialist Patricia Gunter, M.D. explains when to start and stop hormones during menopause.   She visited the KXAN studios and spoke with reporter Erin Cargile on Saturday, May 7.

When should a woman begin hormones?

All women are different and will have different experiences with hormone therapy. In general, as soon as you begin having symptoms.  Dr. Gunter urges women not to wait until symptoms are unbearable.  After all, perimenopause (or the time around menopause) can last for 4-6 years.

What is the average age for perimenopause or the onset of menopause?

The average age is 51 – but anytime between the ages of 45 to 55 is normal.  Some women may experience an earlier onset if they have had a hysterectomy or certain cancer therapies.

Can all women take hormones?

Not all women can take hormones, but most can begin under the age of 50.  Your doctor will look at your health history to see if it’s right for you.

Do herbal therapies or over the counter medications work?

Although, patient may experience some mild or temporary relief from herbal remedies or over the counter medications, Dr. Gunter emphasizes that the hormones are stronger and better at helping to offset symptoms of menopause.

 Do hormones pose any kind of risk?

Depending on the age when a woman begins hormones, there may be an advantage or decreased risk in taking hormones.  Women under age 50 may actually derive a benefit of preventing early heart disease.

When should you stop taking hormones?

Again, Dr. Gunter says the timing can be tricky since all women are different, but in general, recommends after the age of 50.  The physician would like their patients to take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.   When a patient begins coming off the hormones, there may be an adjustment period of removing the hormones, seeing if symptoms return, and if so then reducing the dose and reintroducing hormones at a lower dose.

For more information, read Dr. Gunter’s full article here.