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Risks and benefits of hormonal therapies in women

The authoritative point of view of Prof. Costantino Di Carlo

Female hormones, estrogens and / or progestogens, may be prescribed either to compensate for the deficiency resulting from menopause, or for contraception. We talk about it with Prof. Costantino Di Carlo, Ordinary of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of the University of Catanzaro “Magna Graecia”, an expert in the subject, who for years has been carrying out clinical and research activities in this field.

Professor, let’s talk about contraceptives: the pill has often been accused of having dangerous side effects. It’s true? Does it also have beneficial effects?

The pill, like all medicines, has side effects. These, however, have been overemphasized in our country, which in the western world is the one with the lowest rate of use of these drugs. This is bad because the pill, if used intelligently, can be a valuable ally for a woman’s health by preventing unwanted pregnancies and taking preventive and therapeutic effects. In fact, this drug significantly protects against ovarian and endometrial cancer. It also reduces menstrual pain and the extent of menstruation and is an effective therapy for endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and premenstrual syndrome. The same active ingredients of the pill are contained in the patch and in the vaginal contraceptive ring. With these methods of administration, however, it is not necessary to remember to take the drug every day (the patch should be replaced every week, the ring once a month) and the effectiveness does not change in case of vomiting or diarrhoea.

How can hormonal therapies help women after menopause?

After the menopause some women have a series of symptoms (hot flashes, sweats, insomnia, nervousness) that significantly reduce the quality of life. Moreover, in this “delicate phase” of the life of every woman, the vulva and the vagina face a condition of atrophy that is often associated with difficulty or pain during intercourse or in the performance of daily activities. Female hormone therapy is extremely effective in the treatment of these disorders. Moreover, it intervenes in the prevention of some of the pathologies that appear after the menopause. In fact, it significantly reduces the risk of fractures resulting from osteoporosis and, most likely, also that of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. This therapy, however, must be strictly personalized and prescribed only after careful clinical evaluation by the doctor.