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Hormone treatments for menopausal symptoms

Menopause hormone therapy

Menopause hormone therapy, also known as hormone replacement therapy, (HRT) is a very effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. Menopause hormone therapy treatments are made up of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen, either individually or combined.  Some studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) following treatment with menopause hormone therapy, so it is generally not recommended after breast cancer.                                    

Menopause hormone therapy is generally avoided for women who have had breast cancer because it may increase the risk of breast cancer coming back. It is important to talk to your oncologist or general practitioner about your options.

Tibolone treatment

Tibolone is another drug used for treating menopausal symptoms. The drug acts in a similar way to menopause hormone therapy and research has shown an increased risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) following treatment with tibolone.

Tibolone is avoided after breast cancer because it may increase the risk of breast cancer coming back. It is important to talk to your oncologist or general practitioner about your options.

Testosterone treatment

Testosterone is produced by women as well as men. Testosterone levels fall gradually with increasing age and may be reduced by some breast cancer treatments. For some women, reduced levels of testosterone may lead to lower libido and lower energy levels. The safety and long-term effects of testosterone treatments have not been established.

Testosterone is not recommended for women who have had breast cancer. It is important to talk to your oncologist or general practitioner about your options.

Compounded or ‘bio-identical’ hormones

Compounded hormones, also known as ‘bio-identical hormones’ are hormonal preparations that are individually prepared for the treatment of menopausal symptoms or other hormonal complaints. Compounded hormone mixtures are prepared as troches (placed in the mouth) or creams (rubbed on the body). Compounded hormone preparations require a doctor’s prescription and are made up by chemists called compounding pharmacists.

Studies of compounded hormone creams have found inconsistent results and their safety after breast cancer is not known. Compounded hormone treatments can contain high levels of hormones and may increase the risk of breast cancer coming back.  

Compounded hormones are not recommended for women who have had breast cancer. It is important to talk to your oncologist or general practitioner about your options.