A popular form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is often used to stave off the changes associated with female aging, can accelerate hearing loss. University of Rochester researchers led by Robert D. Frisina found that women who were taking a combination of estrogen and progestin had hearing deficits typically expected in women five to 10 years older. The study of 124 women between the ages of 60 and 86 points to progestin as the culprit, because the hearing of participants who took estrogen alone was unaffected by the treatment.
Previous studies have also documented slight hearing loss in women taking birth-control pills containing progestin and in younger women during the stage of their menstrual cycles when progesterone, the hormone's natural form, is at its highest level. Yet women still have better overall hearing than men up until menopause, a benefit attributed to natural estrogen.
This article was originally published with the title Hormone Harms Hearing.