Women on HRT pills should be aware that there is a small chance of an increased risk of blood clots and possibly stroke, according to a study.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to relieve symptoms of the menopause. It replaces female hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause.
The link was made by the international Cochrane group, which looked at medical trials involving some 40,000 women.
While HRT pills can ease menopausal symptoms and may offer some protection against heart disease, this must be weighed against other possible harms.
Women facing the dilemma should discuss it with their doctor, experts say.
The Cochrane researchers say their study is not the final word on HRT – more investigations are needed to get a clearer picture of all the benefits and risks.
It is important that women have a full understanding of the risks and benefits of HRT and should talk this through with their doctor
Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation
Experts also point out that many women now take HRT as a patch or gel rather than a tablet – the study did not look at these formulations.
HRT pros and cons
Over the years, there has been a lot of research into and negative press about HRT.
Its use has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, as well as blood clots.
But while risks do exist, most experts agree that HRT can be a good and safe treatment to help many women control unpleasant menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes.
One million women in the UK are on some form of hormone replacement therapy – be that pills, patches or gels.