Risks and side effects of hormone replacement therapy

There are a number of well documented risks that may be associated with using HRT. Some of these are simply unpleasant side effects and some may be more serious.

The side effects of HRT include: possible weight gain, breast tenderness and headaches. These symptoms may be very similar to those you might have experienced prior to your period every month.More serious risks could include an increase in the risk of some oestrogen dependent cancers, such as breast cancer. A recent study, the million women study, has concluded that women taking oestrogen only HRT as a result of having a hysterectomy have a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer.

There is also the possibility of developing deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot that develops in the veins, usually in the leg. It is a fairly rare condition, normally affecting one person in 1,700. However taking HRT can increase this risk to by 1:5000.

Finally, it is possible that the risk of developing gallstones may increase when taking oestrogen only forms of HRT, particularly in tablet form.

You may decide NOT to take HRT for the following reasons:

  • personal history of breast cancer
  • family history of breast cancer
  • high risk category related to breast cancer
  • history of thrombosis
  • family history of thrombosis
  • high risk category of thrombosis

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