Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.
Since your uterus has been removed, there are no special concerns about uterine cancer from estrogen. You also do not need to take the hormone progesterone along with estrogen if you use hormone treatments to relieve your hot flashes.
Here are some risks and benefits that you and your doctor will need to consider together if you are interested in using estrogen to treat your hot flashes. Most women who use estrogen for hot flashes use the medicine for five years or less, which is considered short-term treatment. In your case, the risks listed below include risks for women who take estrogen alone, without taking progesterone.
Risks from estrogen:
- You are more likely to have a stroke
- You are more likely to develop dementia, possibly by causing small strokes
- You are more likely to get a blood clot in your leg or your lungs ("pulmonary embolus")
- You are more likely to get gallstones
There are some benefits from estrogen, such as:
- Estrogen can relieve your hot flashes
- Estrogen after menopause reduces your risk for urinary tract infections
- Estrogen increases your bone density, and it helps to prevent bone fractures (but other non-hormonal treatments that do not post the risks associated with estrogen are available to improve your bone density)
- You may have less vaginal dryness
Other issues that studies have revealed:
- Estrogen alone does not appear to worsen -- nor to improve -- heart attack risk when it is used in women under the age of 60. However, for older women, estrogen may increase heart attack risk
- Estrogen alone has uncertain long-term effects on the risk for breast cancer, but use of estrogen for a short time during menopause does not appear to increase breast cancer risk
Most experts would advise you that the risks of short-term estrogen treatment (without progesterone) are about equally balanced by the benefits. For people who are very bothered by hot flashes, estrogen is a sensible treatment.
Visit with your doctor if you would like to discuss estrogen treatment for your hot flashes.