Hormone therapy in menopausal women with fibroids: is it safe?

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Menopause is an important transition in the life of women. It has been estimated that by the year 2030, worldwide 1.2 billion women will be menopausal. The most bothersome symptoms of menopause are believed to be due to declines in estrogen levels in postmenopausal women. Thus, hormone therapy is an effective treatment option for menopausal women, although prolonged use of hormone therapy is associated with a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, thromboembolism, and stroke. A literature search for studies evaluating the effects of hormone therapy in menopausal women with asymptomatic fibroids demonstrated variable effects of hormone therapy on the volume and size of the fibroids. Some studies have demonstrated an increase in size of pre-existing asymptomatic fibroids and formation of new fibroids with higher doses of progestogen in combination therapy. The finding of low resistance index in uterine arteries of women with asymptomatic fibroids is associated with an increased risk of fibroid growth, and thus making the measurement of pulsatility index of uterine arteries a possible screening tool before initiating hormone therapy in menopausal women with fibroids. Although the effect of hormone treatment is variable and statistically insignificant in many cases, the newer selective estrogen receptor modulators having tissue-specific estrogen agonistic and antagonistic actions such as raloxifene have a favorable clinical profile and may be better alternatives in women with asymptomatic fibroids.

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