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October 8, 2008 > Learn About Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at an Upcoming Washington Women's Center Seminar

Learn About Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at an Upcoming Washington Women's Center Seminar

Right now, more than 42 million American women are over the age of 50. Fifty-one is the approximate age when most women experience menopause, a normal part of the aging process when women stop having menstrual periods.

This time of change for a woman often lasts several years, from when she first has symptoms until her last period. Symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness can occur when the levels of a woman's female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, begin to change during menopause. To relieve symptoms, some women take hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

"HRT is a subject many women ask about," says Kathy Hesser, R.N., coordinator of the Washington Women's Center. "Oftentimes, they get conflicting information from different physicians, depending on the doctor's specialty."

Besides relieving the symptoms of menopause, HRT is believed to have other benefits - and risks - to a woman's health.

"Certain types of HRT have a higher risk and each woman's own risks can vary depending upon her health history and lifestyle," reports the National Institutes of Health. "You and your health care provider need to discuss the risks and benefits for you."

To help women in the Tri-City area get a better understanding about menopause and the risks and benefits of HRT, the Women's Center is sponsoring a free Women's Health seminar presented by local family practice physician Shelli Bodnar, M.D, who is with the new Washington Township Medical Group and on the medical staff at Washington Hospital. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, October 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Washington Women's Center located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. To register, please call (510) 608-1301.

"We'll talk about what menopause is, what are the symptoms, what kinds of treatments are available, and what might be right for you," says Dr. Bodnar.

The approach that women and their physicians have taken to treating menopausal symptoms has changed over the years. In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative, a major program by the National Institutes of Health to test the effects of hormone therapy on more than 160,000 women, was halted due to concerns about the effects of the hormones on the health of a small percentage of women in the study.

"In the past, we thought hormone treatment could protect women from heart disease, even if they had no menopausal symptoms, and many women took HRT for general good health," relates Dr. Bodnar. "But the study revealed that this was not the case. In fact, a few women in the study experienced a slight increase in stroke, heart attack and blood clot formation."

"At that time, even though the changes affected only a small number of women, there was a total backlash against HRT, and most women completely stopped taking hormones," explains Dr. Bodnar. "Now, six years later, we've evolved from that viewpoint to say that, in some circumstances, hormones are OK."

The Women's Health Initiative did confirm that HRT can help women protect their bones against osteoporosis. The study was inconclusive about the question of whether HRT protects against breast cancer.

"Today, we have gone away from the idea of giving HRT to everyone or to no one," concludes Dr. Bodnar. "The best approach is to weigh the pros and cons for an individual woman and her particular needs."

In addition to discussing hormone therapy, Dr. Bodnar will talk briefly about non-hormonal treatment approaches that some women are now adopting to treat menopausal symptoms.

For more information or to register for the upcoming Women's Health Seminar on Hormone Replacement Therapy, call (510) 608-1301 or visit the Washington Women's Center website at www.whhs.com/services/womens_health/womenscenter.htm.

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