Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to relieve the symptoms of the menopause, primarily hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. There are two main hormones used in HRT, Oestrogen and Progestogen. HRT involves either taking both hormones or just taking oestrogen.
There are over 50 different types of HRT available including daily tablets which can be taken orally, skin patches, gels that can be applied to the skin once a day, implants and using a vaginal cream.
Benefits of using Hormone Replacement Therapy:
- Helps reduce vaginal dryness
- Helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats
- Helps reduce bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis
Although these benefits may lead to improved sleep and quality of life HRT has no significant impact on user’s general health, mental health, energy or symptoms of depression.
Risks associated with Hormone Replacement Therapy are:
- A small increased risk of Breast Cancer
- A small increased risk of Blood Clots
- A small increased risk of Heart Attack
- A small increased risk of Stroke
Along with the risks there are also many reported side effects which include bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, leg cramps, headaches, indigestion and vaginal bleeding.
If you wish to start hormone replacement therapy you should discuss the benefits and risks of treatment with your doctor and before deciding if it is right for you. Your doctor can take in to account your age and medical history to assess the risk factors for you.
Key points when taking HRT
- It should be taken as a short-term treatment at the lowest effective dose.
- It should be taken for the correct reasons i.e. to alleviate menopausal symptoms.
- Users should be assessed by their GP once a year.
A healthy diet, regular exercise and reducing your alcohol consumption has been proven to reduce most menopausal symptoms and is widely recommended by health professionals.