a form of therapy with estrogen hormones most commonly used to treat the symptoms of menopause. It reduces or stops the short-term changes of menopause such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep, and vaginal dryness. Estrogen replacement therapy is thought to help prevent osteoporosis, a consequence of lowered estrogen levels. Estrogen therapy has more recently been referred to without the use of the term “replacement” and is simply referred to as estrogen therapy or estrogen therapy.
While estrogen therapy may help prevent osteoporosis, it has been reported to be associated with health risks in some populations. Specifically, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) data in 2002 showed that estrogen therapy alone in menopause led to an increased risk for strokes and blood clots. However, the women in this study were older and other research has suggested a possible protective effect against heart disease when taken early in the postmenopausal years. The definitive health risks and benefits of estrogen therapy have yet to be fully characterized. Vaginal estrogen therapy products help with vaginal dryness, more severe vaginal changes, and bladder effects but, since very little vaginal estrogen enters the circulation, it may not help with hot flashes or prevent osteoporosis .
The use of unopposed estrogen therapy (estrogen therapy alone without progesterone) is associated with an increase in the risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). However, by taking the hormone progestogen along with estrogen, the risk of endometrial cancer is reduced substantially. Progestogen protects the uterus by keeping the endometrium from thickening (an effect caused by estrogen). The combination therapy of estrogen plus progestogen is called hormone therapy (HT, also formerly known as hormone replacement therapy or HRT).
The decision to take estrogen therapy or hormone therapy is best made together with a healthcare practitioner who can help explain the potential risks and benefits on a case-by-case basis. Estrogen therapy may not be appropriate for all women, for example, women with breast cancer, heart disease, or a history of blood clots.
- Therapy, external beam radiation
Radiation focused from a source outside the body on the affected area (a cancer) within the body. It’s much like getting a diagnostic x-ray, but using a more potent x-ray beam and giving it over a longer period of time per dose with usually multiple doses given over multiple days.
- Therapy, fever
Using abnormal elevations in body temperature as a tool to treat disease. This was done in the past by deliberately raising the patient’s temperature to cause fever. Fever therapy was pioneered by the Austrian neuropsychiatrist Julius Wagner von Jauregg (1857-1940). He inoculated the malarial parasite into patients with dementia paralytica, the third and final stage […]
- Therapy, gene
adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency. In late October of 1999 the U.S. moved to require the disclosure of the results of gene therapy. The move by the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee came 6 weeks after the death of an 18-year-old Arizona man, Jesse Gelsinger, who was apparently the first person to die as a result of […]
- Therapy, hormone replacement (HRT)
The combination therapy of estrogen plus a progestogen. Formerly, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Estrogen therapy (ET) is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. It reduces or stops the short-term changes of menopause such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep, and vaginal dryness. Estrogen therapy can prevent osteoporosis, a consequence of lowered estrogen levels. Vaginal estrogen […]
- Therapy, human gene
Insertion of normal DNA directly into cells to correct a genetic defect. The treatment of disease by replacing, altering, or supplementing a gene that is absent or abnormal and whose absence or abnormality is responsible for a disease. In studies of gene therapy for cancer, for example, researchers are trying to bolster the body’s natural […]