Pros and Cons of Hormone Therapy Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Menopause and Its Consequences

Menopause is that inevitable and irreversible time when a woman's reproductive cycle and menstruation periods gradually end, as her ovaries cease to respond to male gonadotropins and her capacity to become pregnant stops (Mayeux, Jr. 1997). This spontaneously occurs between 45 and 55 in American women, with 51 as the median age.

A woman's ovaries at the menopause are nearly empty of primary follicles - which, in child-bearing age, are abundant, mature and can be fertilized by the male sperm cell, resulting in conception and pregnancy. At menopause, the ovaries' production of the hormone called estrogen becomes very minimal, and this altered condition of a lack of estrogen produces many unpleasant symptoms in approximately 70% of all postmenopausal women (Mayeux, Jr.). These symptoms include hot flushes and extreme warmth, profuse sweating, tremor, irritability, and depression. Physically, the female reproductive organs shrink and lose their fullness. The vaginal pH turns more alkaline and it becomes more prone to chronic vaginitis, which is accompanied by itching, discharge, and tenderness. Pelvic ligaments and muscles also loosen and often result in bladder prolapse and stress incontinence (Mayeux, Jr.). The breasts also shrink and sag. Furthermore, osteoporosis develops when there is severe depletion of estrogen.A number of women lose sexual interest and abandon usual activities as a result of a perceived loss of femininity and attractiveness.

Estrogen/Hormone Replacement Therapy (ERT/HRT)

Most of these symptoms can be eliminated, minimized or reversed by estrogen replacement therapy. Even low doses of.01 mg of ethinyl estradiol or.625...
...It has also been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease and colon cancer. HRT also contains progestin or prescribed along with it in order to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.

Last July, however, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) came out with a finding from the so-called Women's Health Initiative, which surveyed an estimated 14 million menopausal and post-menopausal women before that month. It doused what has been long held by obstetrician-gynecologists as menopausal women's provision for healthy hearts, bones and moods as well as effective relief from menopausal symptoms (McCullough 2002). It announced its finding that HRT causes just what it is supposed to prevent and in a span of only five years from the start of HRT. The announcement jolted concerned women out of HRT and led groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Heart Association and the North American Menopause Society to come to a common prescription of the lowest possible dose of hormones and for the shortest possible period to treat symptoms. They warned that hormones should not be used to prevent or treat heart disease and other degenerative ailments (McCullough).

The Pros and Cons

With the loss of estrogen at menopause, osteoporosis develops, whereby bones lose calcium and become thin and brittle (Hempel 1996), increasing the risk of fractures. Studies show that 120,000 such women fracture their hips every year and about 15% of…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

1. American Medical Women's Association. (1999). Q & A on Hormone Replacement

Therapy and Breast Cancer. (accessed 02-01-03).

2. Hempel, Karl. (1996). Estrogen Replacement Therapy. The Health Gazette.

A accessed 02-01-03).

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