Friday, 3 July 2015

Women’s Views on HRT and Alternative therapies.

Women’s Views on HRT and Alternative therapies.

It is well known that many women and healthcare professionals are uncertain about the pros and cons of treatment options for menopausal symptoms and are particularly concerned about risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy. 

It is also recognised that many women consider using Alternative therapies for control of menopausal symptoms, a previous survey published in 2007 showing that 96% of women would try alternatives before using HRT.

With much media attention and sometimes conflicting reporting of study results, it is understandable that both women and healthcare professionals are unsure what to believe and so what decisions to make.

Results of a recent survey on the Menopause Matters website has provided further information about women’s views on alternative therapies and hormone replacement therapy. 1476 responses were received from 33 countries, with 92% from the UK.

Regarding women’s views on HRT, almost 70% had used or would consider using HRT with almost 30% saying that their views on the use of HRT had changed for the better over the last 5 years. There appears to have been an improvement in women’s understanding of HRT since the previous survey, with now the majority feeling that they were clear about risks and benefits, many aware that different types were associated with different risks and over half were aware that the age at which HRT was started affected an individual’s risk.

While the percentage of women who felt that they know enough about HRT to make an informed choice has increased from 27% in 2007 to 53.2% in 2014, it is still concerning that almost half from this survey did not know enough. Most women obtained their information from their health professional or the internet and so it is essential that health professionals are up to date and able to provide correct information. Sadly, over half felt that their family doctor did not recognise the importance of the menopause.

Regarding women’s views on Alternative therapies, still the majority of women (76%) would try alternatives before taking HRT for menopausal symptoms. Around 55% of women had used alternatives despite almost 40% of those women stating that they did not know enough to make an informed choice. The main reasons for trying alternatives were desperation, concern with risks of HRT, seeming to be more natural than HRT and recommendation by a friend. Of those women who had not used alternatives, almost 40% were unconvinced that they were effective or had concerns about safety.

Whatever is decided for managing menopausal symptoms whether it be diet and lifestyle changes, alternative therapies or hormone replacement therapy, women should be supported to make the right individual decision. The recent survey suggests that much is still required to help this to happen.
It is very much hoped that more and more women will have access to accurate information so that they can make truly informed choices about what treatment option they choose.