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Nurse Pract. 1996 Dec;21(12 Pt 2):1-13; quiz 14-5.

Hormone replacement therapy.

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Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., USA.


More than 40 million women in the United States are now going through or are past menopause. Another 3.5 million or more will reach midlife in the next decade. As their life expectancy increases (mean life expectancy of women is now approximately 84 years), so does the need for therapeutic regimens related to reproductive function and aging in woman. Few medical treatments available to menopausal and postmenopausal women have as much potential benefit as well as possible health risks as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Despite the increasing amount of scientific data available regarding the benefits of HRT, a degree of uncertainty still remains, both in the minds of some women, and with some health professionals, regarding the risks associated with long-term therapy. Even though the literature is voluminous, contradictory, and unclear, health providers must be able to keep abreast of current knowledge about the benefits, risks, and unknowns of these drugs. The purpose of this article is to provide a review and an update on the types of hormones available for HRT, their pharmacology and pharmacokinetics, and their risks, benefits, and contraindications. Newer products, specially compounded formulas, new regimens, and new modes of delivery that offer women alternatives and allow care to be individualized are described. In addition, some of the ongoing management dilemmas that practitioners face with the woman who chooses HRT are presented with practical solutions and suggestions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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