HRT is really helping me, but my doctor said I have to stop after 5 years! Is that true?

The short answer to this is no!

Unfortunately, however, this is still the message that many women are being told.

There are obviously lots of different circumstances where women can be taking HRT, and there is no single answer as to how long they should take it for. Young women who suffer from premature ovarian insufficiency should continue taking HRT up to the age of 52 (or longer if needed), regardless of when they start it. I’m also aware of older women, some in their 70s and 80s, who still need to take it because, without it, their symptoms are intolerable.

As with most things, individualised advice is paramount. The guidance from NICE and advice from the British Menopause Society suggests that there are no arbitrary limits as to how long to treat a woman with HRT, but suggests we should aim to use the lowest dose, for the least possible time.

As discussed, this can often be dependent on why it is being used in the first place, and it is not always easy to know when it’s no longer needed – sometimes the only way to know is to gradually stop it and see.

But just stopping it after 5 years for no other reason other than ‘it’s been 5 years’, is not recommended. What is recommended is that women taking HRT should be reviewed every year, and the potential risks and benefits of treatment discussed – then each woman can make an informed choice as to whether she wishes to continue.

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