Prescription Hormone Therapy

The change in estrogen levels during menopause can cause bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. There are a number of unchangeable risk factors which can increase the likelihood of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis. Unchangeable risk factors include race, family history, frame size, and age. The older a woman is, the greater at risk she is for developing postmenopausal osteoporosis. There are a number of modifiable risk factors that you can influence. These include calcium intake, exercise, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. If you’re at risk for postmenopausal osteoporosis, your healthcare professional may talk to you about oral hormone therapy as a way to reduce bone loss that can lead to postmenopausal osteoporosis.

The hormones in oral hormone therapies help supplement your body’s own hormones. Oral hormone therapy is used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration consistent with a woman’s treatment goals and her individual risks. No two women are the same. Individual factors that need to be considered in each case include the woman’s health and quality-of-life priorities as well as her personal risk factors, such as her risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Hormone therapy is available in a variety of formulations and treatment options. You and your healthcare professional should discuss whether prescription hormone therapy is right for you.

Unchangeable Postmenopausal Osteoporosis Risk Factors

  • Race. Women of Asian and Caucasian descent are at a greater risk
  • Family history. If a parent or sibling has osteoporosis, you’re at greater risk for developing it too
  • Age. As a woman ages, her risk for developing postmenopausal osteoporosis increases
  • Frame size. Women with smaller frames may be at higher risk because they have less bone mass

Modifiable Postmenopausal Osteoporosis Risk Factors

  • Calcium intake. A lack of calcium in your diet can contribute to early bone loss, increasing the risk of fractures. Eat a balanced diet to ensure you obtain adequate calcium and vitamin D
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Women who are inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than women who are more mobile or active. Engage in both cardio exercise to keep heart muscles strong and weight-bearing exercises to maintain bone strength at least 3 times a week
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages. Consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day may increase your risk of osteoporosis because alcohol may interfere with your body’s calcium absorption.
  • Tobacco use. Another reason to avoid smoking, researchers believe that it can contribute to weak bones.

Prescription Hormone Therapy For Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

  • Increases bone density to help prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • When prescribed only to prevent osteoporosis, healthcare providers are encouraged to consider other treatments before prescribing medications that contain estrogens
  • Available in a range of dosage strengths so the lowest, most effective dosage for the shortest duration can be determined

Potential Risks

  • Medications that contain estrogens may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, as well as breast and endometrial cancer
  • Common side effects may include headache, irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting (in women with a uterus), breast pain, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, and hair loss
  • Less common but serious side effects include: breast cancer, uterine cancer (in women with a uterus), stroke, heart attack, blood clots, dementia, gallbladder disease, and ovarian cancer
  • Women should not take estrogens if they:
    • — Think they are pregnant
    • — Have unusual vaginal bleeding
    • — Have or have had certain cancers
    • — Have had a stroke or heart attack in the past year
    • — Have or have had blood clots
    • — Have liver problems or liver disease 


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