Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a form of medication that contains hormones to replace the ones lost after menopause. Sometimes, it is used for treating menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and others. HRT has both benefits and risks. The risks depend on some factors such as the kind of hormone therapy, the dose, and how long the patient takes the medication. Hormone therapy offers the best results when tailored to every patient and re-assessed frequently.
How HRT is Administered
Hormone therapy can be taken in the form of:
- Systematic estrogen. Systematic estrogen comes in skin path, pills, spray, and cream form. They are the most effective treatment to relieve menopausal hot flashes and night sweats. Also, estrogen eases vaginal symptoms of menopause like burning, itching, and dryness. Combing estrogen therapy with progesterone therapy is found to help in reducing the risk of colon cancer. Systematic estrogen also protects against osteoporosis.
- Low-dose vaginal estrogen preparations. These products come in tablet, cream, or ring form. They are effective in treating vaginal symptoms and some urinary symptoms. They do not help in treating hot flashes, night flashes, and other disturbing symptoms of menopause.
Who can Get Hormone Therapy
The benefits of HRT outweigh the risks if the patient is healthy and experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of menopause. Also, good candidates for HRT are those who have lost bone mass, stopped having periods before age 40, or those who experienced premature ovarian insufficiency. Women who reach menopause prematurely can also benefit from hormone therapy.
When to Start HRT
Not all women in menopause need treatment. But, those who want to try it may not need to continue for long. While the average age of menopause onset is 51, the most serious symptoms usually last for 2-3 years. Doctors agree that the most effective way to get the benefits of HRT is to take a low-dose treatment. HRT must be started as soon as the woman starts menopause. But, those who have moderate to severe symptoms that interfere with their life should take hormone therapy and be re-evaluated every six months to determine if they still need the treatment. Long-term treatment might be necessary for patients who want to prevent osteoporosis or heart disease. For this purpose, HRT is combined with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle to ensure the patient gains optimal results from the treatment.