Hormone Replacement Therapy

Suggested lead: Some information that could help you decide whether or not to begin hormone replacement therapy. Tom Britt has more.

Hormone replacement therapy has generated a great deal of conversation among women and their doctors. Hormone replacement therapy, or H-R-T, restores estrogen lost during menopause. The immediate benefits are more restful sleep, better control over emotions and the disappearance of those "hot flashes." Ann Brown is professor of endocrinology and director of the women's health program at Duke University Medical Center. She says one of the arguments against HRT is that menopause and its symptoms are a natural part of aging, but she doesn't buy into that argument.

"It is natural for the ovaries to gradually stop producing estrogen over the years. It is natural to live without estrogen for 30 years after menopause or so. But it's also natural to develop osteoporosis and natural to develop heart disease as we get older. A lot of things are natural that are not good for us. Perhaps it's not natural that we're living so long."

Brown also says fears about gaining weight on HRT are unfounded. A recent study showed that women on hormone replacement therapy actually gain less weight as they grow older. I'm Tom Britt.

Brown says breast tenderness that occurs at the start of hormone replacement therapy goes away within weeks, and studies show there is nothing to the claim that HRT causes weight gain.

Cut 2...gain...:09 . . . (Preview this in a WAV file in 16-bit mono.)

"So everybody gained weight, but the women who took estrogen actually gained less weight and they had smaller waists at the end of it. So, I think it's a myth that estrogen causes weight gain."