Women assured hormone replacement therapy is safe despite rare risks
Australian women are being reassured that hormone replacement therapy is safe after a large study uncovered more details on the increased risk of blood clots.
The UK study, published in the BMJ, found that hormone replacement tablets are linked to a higher risk of rare but serious blood clots known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
But there was no increased risk associated with the use of HRT skin patches, gels or creams.
Hormone replacement therapy is an effective way to manage some of the terrible symptoms of menopause which can include hot flushes and sleep disturbances.
About 20-percent of women experience severe symptoms.
The study compared HRT prescription records of more than 80,000 women who developed blood clots with more than 390,000 women who did not.
When analysing overall oral HRT use across all age groups, there were nine extra cases of serious blood clots per 10,000 women.
Sydney GP Dr Julia Menzies say the study gives doctors a more detailed picture of the risks.
"We've known for a while that taking HRT does increase the risk of blood clots and that's with oral HRT, so tablet preparation forms, but there wasn't much information as to which particular forms carried the most risks," said Dr Julia Menzies, Women's Health GP at Clinic 66.
The study found that oral preparations with conjugated equine oestrogen such as Premarin were associated with higher risks than products using oestradiol.
"We've always suggested that the safest or the best products are really to have a combination of transdermal and oral progesterone or transdermal," said Dr Elizabeth Farrell, Medical Director, Jean Hailes for Women's Health.
"I think this study has been very important in highlighting the differences between the different products, between oral and transdermal," she said.
Dr Farrell says women should not be alarmed by the latest study.
"Within ten years of the final menstrual period, hormone replacement therapy is a very safe therapy," she said.
Women who have concerns are being advised to talk to their doctor to discuss other options.
Information on menopause treatments can be found https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019