What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Every woman goes through several changes in body functions, marking the different stages in life. With puberty, the menstrual cycle starts, during which certain hormones control the monthly release of the egg in preparation for pregnancy. The termination of menstruation and fertility of a woman is known as menopause and occurs 12 months after the last menstrual period. Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is a treatment for relieving symptoms associated with menopause.
How is Hormone Replacement Therapy administered?
HRT can be administered via:
- Oral medication
- Vaginal creams and tablets
- Gels or patches which adhere to your skin
- An intrauterine device (IUD)
HRT can involve different components; some types contain only one hormone, while others contain a combination of the two hormones estrogen and progesterone. You should consult with your doctor to identify which type is better for you. Initially, you will start on a low dose which is increased gradually. Doctors suggest waiting for a period of three months to observe the effects of the treatment. If one type of HRT does not work, you may need to switch to another type or adjust the dose.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
HRT helps restore your hormone levels which help in improving most menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, dryness of the vagina and reduced sex drive. HRT can also protect against osteoporosis. For some women the symptoms of menopause are mild and go away on their own, not requiring HRT.
Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy
As with any therapy, HRT is associated with certain risks and complications which include:
- Tenderness of the breasts
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen
- Blood clots
- Breast cancer
Current international recommendations suggest that the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks and that HRT is safe and effective.