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If you or someone you know has gone through menopause, you may have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help relieve your symptoms. But in the process, HRT may have also impacted your hearing.

What the Evidence Found
HRT was initially thought to offer a protective solution for hearing loss in postmenopausal women, as one 2007 study found that a mix of estrogen/progesterone helped preserve women’s hearing abilities.1

In contrast, a team out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2017 found that HRT increased the risk of hearing loss in women who currently did not have hearing loss. Pills, patches, estrogen-only formulas and those combined with progesterone—the results were the same for all: The longer a woman is on HRT, the higher the risk of hearing loss.2

The Brigham team analyzed data for over 47,000 female nurses spanning two decades, concluding that taking a course of HRT for five to 10 years increased a woman’s risk of hearing loss by 15% compared to a woman not taking HRT.

More Research Is Needed
Why HRT increased the risk of hearing loss in this study is still a mystery.

What we do know is that HRT is traditionally used to treat common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or bone loss, restoring depleted levels of estrogen and progesterone from the biological process of menopause.

We also know that we have estrogen receptors in our ear cells and auditory pathways, though we don’t know how exactly estrogen affects hearing. And progesterone has a harmonious relationship with estrogen, reducing estrogen receptor cells in the body’s regulation of pregnancy.

Researchers say that further study of the relationship between hormones and the hearing system is needed to learn more about the complicated connection between hearing loss, menopause and HRT.

Deciding whether to have HRT is a personal choice that is best made under the care and guidance of your physician.

However, if you did undergo HRT in the past, a hearing checkup is a smart idea.

If you’re concerned you or someone you care about may have a hearing loss, call Precision Hearing at 352-765-8008 today to schedule an evaluation.

1 Hederstierna, C., Hultcrantz, M., Collins, A., & Rosenhall, U. (2007). Hearing in women at menopause. Prevalence of hearing loss, audiometric configuration and relation to hormone replacement therapy. Acta oto-laryngological, 127(2), 149–155.

2 Curhan, S. G., Eliassen, A. H., Eavey, R. D., Wang, M., Lin, B. M., & Curhan, G. C. (2017). Menopause and postmenopausal hormone therapy and risk of hearing loss. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 24(9), 1049–1056.

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