Menopause is not a disease that has a definitive cure or treatment.

Some of the changes in menopause can be relieved by giving replacement estrogen in place of the hormone that is no longer made by the body. The decision to take estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is a combination of estrogen and progesterone, should be an individualized choice. A woman and her doctor should thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks before beginning therapy.

In recent years, recommendations for taking HRT have changed. While HRT has been shown to be excellent for relieving hot flashes and for preventing osteoporosis-related fractures, it may cause small increases in the risk of other problems such as heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.

Recent studies have also shown a slight increase in the risk of developing dementia. Also, though HRT may relieve hot flashes, a recent large study showed only a small benefit in the relief of insomnia without overall improvement in quality of life for women taking HRT compared to those taking a placebo. The evidence for taking ERT (estrogen alone) is less clear. A large clinical trial of estrogen alone will be closing in 2005, with additional recommendations expected to be forthcoming.

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