What is HRT ( Hormone Replacement Therapy )

What is HRT; HRT is an abbreviation of hormone replacement therapy. It is generally prescribed for the short term relief of the symptoms of the menopause. It is may also be prescribed in the longer term therapy to help prevent osteoporosis.

Summary of Risks/Benefits of HRT

Studies show that relatively small increase in the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke are posed to an individual woman taking treatment. However, when the entire population of postmenopausal women and the number of years a woman may be on treatment are considered – the number of strokes, heart attacks, breast cancer cases and blood clots tend to outweigh the protective effect of HRT on bones.Women may still wish to consider HRT for short term treatment of menopausal symptoms. The key is weighing the risks associated with taking the treatment against a particular woman’s risk of heart disease or osteoporosis without taking treatment. Every woman has a different build-up. Therefore, the entire medical history should be evaluated individually when considering treatment.

Forms of treatment – Treatment is available in many forms which include pills, patches, and vaginal creams. It may be necessary in come cases to try more than one regimen before finding which one works best for you.

• Cyclic hormone therapy is generally recommended. With this therapy, estrogen has to be taken in pill form for 25 days, with progestin added somewhere between days 10-14. The estrogen and progestin are taken together for the remaining 25 days. Then no pills are taken for 3-5 days. However there will be monthly bleeding with cyclic therapy.

• Continuous, combined therapy is one where estrogen and progestin are taken together everyday. In the start of this therapy or when switching from cyclic to continuous therapy, a woman may experience irregular bleeding. Most women stop bleeding within 1 year of starting this therapy.

• Treatment is also available as a patch which is applied either to the abdomen or to the thigh. This patch allows estrogen to be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. This method is preferred by some women because they do not have to take pills.

• Vaginal cream containing estrogen may also be given to women for vaginal dryness. The cream is usually given with one of the other forms of treatment because the cream may not relieve many of the other symptoms and doesn’t appear to protect against bone disease.