What is Hormone replacement therapy?

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Hormone replacement therapy or “HRT”, is a treatment that is used to relieve symptoms of menopause in women. It replaces hormones that haven fallen to a lower level as you approach the menopause.

Benefits of HRT

The main advantage of HRT is that it can help relieve most, if not all, of the menopausal symptoms, such as:

  • Night Sweats

  • Hot Flushes

  • Mood Swings

  • Vaginal Dryness

  • Reduced Sex Drive

For most women, many of these symptoms pass in a few years, but they can be very unpleasant and taking HRT can offer relief for many women. It also helps prevent weakening of the bones (osteoporosis).

How to get started on HRT

You can normally begin HRT as soon as you start experiencing your first menopausal symptoms and don’t usually need to have any tests first. But its still advisable to meet your doctor as they can explain the different types of HRT available and help you choose a suitable one for you.

You’ll start off on a low dose, which can be increased later on. It may take some time to feel the effects of treatment, and there may be a few side effects at first.

Who can take HRT

Most women can undergo HRT if they’re experiencing symptoms associated with menopause. However, this may not be suitable if you have a history of:

  • Blood Clots

  • Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer or Womb Cancer

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Liver Disease

  • memory

Types

There are many different types and finding the right one can be tricky.

There are different types of:

HRT hormones – many women, take a combination of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen

Ways of taking HRT – these include tablets, skin patches, gels and vaginal creams

HRT treatment regimens – HRT medication may be taken continuously without a break, or in cycles where you take oestrogen consistently and only take progestogen every few weeks

Stopping HRT

There’s no set limit on how long you can undergo HRT but talk to your doctor about the duration of treatment they recommend. Most women stop taking it after a few years once their menopausal symptoms pass.

When you decide to stop, gradually decreasing your HRT dose is recommended because it’s less likely to cause your symptoms to relapse and come back in the short term.

Risks and side effects of HRT

As with any treatment procedure, HRT can cause side effects.

Common side effects include:

  •  Breast Tenderness

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Vaginal Bleeding

Some types of HRT can also cause a small increase in your risk of certain serious problems.

The benefits of HRT are felt to outweigh any risks involved mostly. But speak to your doctor if you still have any concerns about taking HRT.