Be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks of HT. These risks may be different depending on your age, medical history, and other factors.
Taking HT may increase your risk for blood clots. Your risk of blood clots is also higher if you are obese or if you smoke.
Your risk of blood clots may be lower if you use estrogen skin patches instead of pills.
Your risk is lower if you use vaginal creams and tablets and the low-dose estrogen ring.
- Most experts believe that taking hormone therapy for up to 5 years does not increase your risk of breast cancer.
- Taking estrogen and progesterone together for longer than 3 to 5 years increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Taking HT can make the mammogram image of your breasts look cloudy. This can make it hard to find breast cancer early.
- Taking estrogen alone does not carry as high a risk for breast cancer as estrogen and progesterone together.
ENDOMETRIAL (UTERINE) CANCER
- Taking estrogen alone increases your risk for endometrial cancer.
- Taking progestin with estrogen seems to protect against this cancer. So if you have a uterus, you should take HT with both estrogen and progestin.
- You cannot get endometrial cancer if you do not have a uterus. So it is safe and recommended to use estrogen alone in this case.
HT is safest when taken before age 60 or within 10 years after starting menopause.
- HT may increase the risk of heart disease in older women.
- HT may increase the risk in women who began using estrogen more than 10 years after their last period.
Women who take only estrogen and who take estrogen with progesterone have an increased risk of stroke. Using the estrogen patch instead of an oral pill decreases this risk. However, it is still increased compared to not taking any hormones at all.
Taking hormone therapy may increase your risk of gallstones.