If you're wondering if menopausal symptoms will return once you stop hormone therapy, it's very variable. Hot flashes can return probably in about 40 percent of women.
Reducing your dose
Many studies have been done to try and determine what happens when you gradually reduce your dosage of hormone therapy. If the dose of the hormone was gradually reduced, would the woman have less hot flashes? It turned out that the results of the studies have been variable. Some say it works and some say it doesn't work any better than just stopping therapy cold turkey. Although menopause and medicating are both very individual events, it is most likely better to reduce your dose and go down slowly rather than stop cold turkey. If the dose is reduced and the woman still has hot flashes, then you know that the women can't come off the therapy yet. If you lower the dose and she doesn't have hot flashes, you can continue to reduce and see what happens.
Guidelines for menopause
There hasn't been a sound set of practice guidelines from the American College of OB/GYN for about 10 years, but the college came out with a very complete practice bulletin in January 2014 and it's available online for doctors as well as patients. The bulletin makes it clear that if a woman still has symptoms from menopause no matter what her age, she should be treated. Menopause is a physiological process in a woman’s body that happens because of a decrease in the ovaries' production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and marks the end of fertility. Most women will go through menopause in their late 40s or early 50s. This process is called perimenopause, and it typically begins two to 10 years before actual menopause. After years of symptoms, most women will reach menopause around 50 years old. Menopause is different for each woman, and the severity/frequency of symptoms is different for each woman.
Menopausal hormone therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy, or hormone replacement therapy, is a treatment regimen that doctors recommend to relieve common symptoms of menopause and address long-term biological changes that result from declining levels of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body during and after the completion of menopause. Menopausal hormone therapy usually involves treatment with estrogen alone, estrogen plus progesterone, or estrogen put progestin, a synthetic hormone with effects similar to those of progesterone. There is no best way to stop hormone therapy, but many physicians taper women off hormones slowly. Many women are introduced to menopausal hormone therapy to alleviate the severity of the common symptom, hot flashes.
What is concerning for many women who are considering hormone therapy is that there is a possibility of their symptoms returning once the therapy is completed and stopped. In 2002, a government study about hormone replacement therapy called the Women’s Health Initiative made women acutely aware of the side effects and health risks involved with hormone therapy. Many women were left feeling deceived about what to expect after hormone therapy. While it is not certain and varies from woman to woman whether hot flashes will continue after completing hormone therapy, many still feel that hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flashes.
Be sure to speak with your doctor in detail about possible side effects and your individual experience with menopause to find out if hormone therapy is suitable for you. And if you are already taking menopausal hormone replacements, be sure to talk to your doctor about reducing your dosage at the appropriate time.