New Decision Guide at Helps Women Understand Hormone Replacement Therapy

ROCHESTER, Minn., Aug. 22, 2002 If you've just begun experiencing hot flashes or other symptoms of approaching menopause, you may be considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- a treatment that aims to partially restore the hormones that naturally decrease as you enter menopause. Lately though, it seems that HRT is making news almost daily. The messages that come across may be confusing to women who take HRT and for those who are considering it.

The Hormone Replacement Therapy Health Decision Guide at can help. Here, you will learn the pros and cons of HRT for menopause, read personal stories about other women who chose different options and get answers from a Mayo Clinic specialist about the most current HRT information.

Screen Shot Hormone Replacement Therapy Health Decision Guide

Visitors to the site hear directly from Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., a specialist in general internal medicine and women's health at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Pruthi says that new research contradicts the long-held belief that HRT protects the heart by mimicking the effects of natural estrogen, which helps keep cholesterol at healthy levels. In fact, in addition to increasing the risk of a heart attack during the first year of treatment, hormone supplements may increase a woman's chances of developing blood clots and gallbladder disease.

"The advice I like to give women who are going through this decision process of choosing HRT is to know their options," says Dr. Pruthi. She says that since there are still some uncertainties about taking HRT, women must first understand their own general health -- including their risk factors for heart disease, osteoporosis and breast cancer.

Healthy women who have been taking hormones for some time, must weigh the benefits, such as relief from hot flashes or prevention of osteoporosis, against risks, such as blood clots and possibly breast cancer. Women are also asking about the length of time they should be on hormones and again need to weigh the risks and benefits to fit their individual needs.

"As a physician, I can't stress enough that having time to talk about the issues and the many facets of HRT with a patient is critical," says Dr. Pruthi. It is not a discussion that can be done in five or ten minutes, she adds. "Women must take advantage of material available to them from their physicians, from books and from the Internet so that they have all the information they need to make the best decision that reflects their own individual situation."

Despite being prescribed for more than half a century, HRT's benefits and risks aren't entirely known. It's estimated that 35 to 40 percent of postmenopausal U.S. women use HRT.

To find the HRT Decision Guide, visit and click on "Health Decision Guides." Navigate through the guide by following the links at the end of each page. This will help you understand more about HRT, menopause, why other women made the choices they did and the pros and cons to consider in making your decision.