What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), also known as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is used to treat symptoms associated with menopause. HRT medications contain combinations of female hormones called estrogen and progestogen. These hormones are produced less and less by the ovaries as a woman approaches menopause.
Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The primary focus of hormone replacement therapy is on replacing estrogen which is no longer produced by the ovaries after menopause. There are two types of hormone replacement therapy:
Systemic Hormone Therapy
In this type of hormone therapy, estrogen is taken in the form of patches, pills, rings, or spray. Systemic hormone medications contain estrogen in higher doses that treat menopausal symptoms throughout the body. The medications of systemic therapy also contain progestogen or progestin (progestogen-like medication), as estrogen alone can stimulate the growth of the endometrium (lining of the uterus), which increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
Low-dose Estrogen Vaginal Products
If you are only experiencing vaginal symptoms of menopause, the doctor will prescribe you low dose medications that can be directly applied to the vagina. They come in the form of a cream, tablets, or rings. In this type of estrogen therapy, only a minimal amount of estrogen is absorbed by the body so, progesterone does not accompany estrogen in vaginal products.
Women who have undergone hysterectomy (uterus removal) do not require progestogen in hormone replacement therapy.
Symptoms of Menopause
Following are common symptoms of menopause that indicate you should consider hormone replacement therapy:
- Hot flashes
- Trouble falling asleep at night
- Night sweats
- Decreased muscle strength.
- Reduced sexual desire.
- Exhaustion, low energy, and fatigue.
- Weight gain, particularly around the stomach and midsection area.
- Thinning hair.
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