I had a front-row seat on the uproar about hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women in the early-aughts. My mother was going through menopause right around when study findings indicated that HRT carried dangerous risks that outweighed the benefits - heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer among them. Since then, millions of women have sweated out their symptoms, thinking that seeking the help of hormones was a veritable death sentence.
Everyone's calmed down a bit, though, and further studies have been conducted. As this recent New York Times* story suggests, in the long run, it doesn't seem that HRT is associated with any increased risk of death. Some flaws in earlier studies have been corrected for and it looks like women suffering from their menopause symptoms should not hesitate to consider talking to their doctors about HRT options - because there are options. It's not a one-pill-fits-all scenario. Women with history of breast cancer and certain other conditions might not be good candidates for the most common HRT cocktail, but there are different dosages and delivery methods, such as vaginal inserts, patches and sprays, some of which don't even enter the bloodstream.
I have to say, having been privy to my mother's fears about HRT, I've always remained very wary of even considering it, but now that I'm in perimenopause myself, I plan to bring it up with my doctor soon. Menopause can put a serious ding in many women's quality of life, and it's exciting to know that most of us might not have to live with it.