Hormone Therapy

As with birth control methods that contain estrogen, or estrogen with progestin, hormone therapy does not cause blood clots.  Rather, hormone therapy increases a woman’s risk for blood clots.

Watch this short video to learn about hormone therapy during menopause and blood clot risks.

What Are Your Risks?

Hormone therapy increases a woman’s risk of blood clots up to three-fold.

The absolute risk of blood clots with hormone therapy is 1 in 300 per year.

The risk for blood clots due to hormone therapy is much higher among women with a blood clotting disorder or with a history of blood clots, unless they are on anticoagulation therapy or blood thinning medication.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk?

For women looking to avoid the risk of blood clots connected to hormone therapy, the troublesome physical effects of menopause, such as mood changes, hot flashes, sleeplessness and vaginal dryness, can be managed without estrogen for symptomatic relief. It is also important to keep in mind that most women, but not all women, will experience the severity of menopause symptoms for about six months before they begin to subside.

Symptom Relief without Hormone Therapy

Mood changes are a common symptom of menopause and can be managed with counseling and support from professionals, family, friends, and online resources. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs) also have been shown to help with mood changes and can be prescribed by your doctor. Studies also have shown that SSRI’s and the medication gabapentin have provided women with some relief from hot flashes.

There are many non-pharmacological steps women can take to manage the symptoms of hot flashes as well. These include: a) keep the core body temperature as cool as possible by dressing in layers, using a fan, sleeping in a cool room and drinking ice water b) refrain from smoking c) exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and promote restorative sleep d) practice relaxation techniques, such as taking a walk, reading a book, listening to music or light yoga and e) avoid things that may trigger hot flashes, such as hot drinks, spicy foods, alcohol, and emotional triggers.

Another symptom of menopause is vaginal dryness due to the thinning of the vaginal wall, which can also be treated without hormone-based therapies. Women can use lubricants such as KY Jelly for short-term relief, for example, during sexual intercourse. For long term relief, women can use over-the-counter moisturizing creams that do not contain estrogen and progestin. Creams containing estrogen have been used in some situations to promote restoration of the vaginal wall with very little absorption into the body’s systems and are beginning to be used by some women. Discuss ways to treat vaginal dryness with your doctor, especially if you have a family history of clotting, a clotting condition, or a prior history of blood clotting.

Sleeplessness that can accompany menopause can also be treated with non-hormonal medications that are prescribed by your doctor or found over-the-counter, like melatonin.

Prevent Blood Clots

Know the Signs and Symptoms, Be Your Own Advocate

Understand the symptoms of blood clots and pay attention to your body for signs of a problem.

Symptoms of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or arms, where they commonly form, include pain and swelling, with skin that might be discolored and/or warm to the touch.

Symptoms of blood clots in the lungs include chest pain, particularly with a deep breath, coughing up blood, and an accelerated heart rate.

Work with your doctor to choose the safest and most effective treatment methods for your menopause symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent blood clots if you decide to take hormone therapy. Or, consider alternative ways to manage menopause symptoms.

Talk to your relatives about your potential family history of blood clots.

Do you have a history of blood clots or an inherited or acquired blood clotting disorder?

There’s more information you may need: 

When entering menopause, experts say women with a history of blood clots should only use estrogen or estrogen and progestin if they are taking anticoagulation or blood thinning medication. For women who are not taking anticoagulants and who have a family history of blood clots or a history of blood clots themselves, hormone therapies increase the risk of potentially life-threatening blood clots.

For More Information About Blood Clots, Visit:

The National Blood Clot Alliance

The information and materials on this site are provided for general information purposes only. You should not rely on the information provided as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care, or treatment. This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or services to you or any individual. If you believe you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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The Rowan Foundation has provided funding to the National Blood Clot Alliance to help educate women about blood clot risk factors that may be specific to them. This funding has allowed the National Blood Clot Alliance to develop this website, dedicated to the memory of Alexandra Rowan, and focused on the information that women need to know about the potential blood clotting risks they face throughout their lifetime.

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