Hormone therapy (HT) uses one or more hormones to treat symptoms of menopause.
Menstrual flow may come to a sudden halt after surgery to remove the ovaries, chemotherapy, or certain hormone treatments for breast cancer.
Menopause symptoms may last 5 or more years, including:
Hormone therapy (HT) can be used to treat menopause symptoms. HT uses the hormones estrogen and progestin, a type of progesterone. Sometimes testosterone is also added.
HT comes in the form of a pill, patch, injection, vaginal cream or tablet, or ring.
Taking hormones can have some risks. When considering HT, learn about how it can help you.
When taking hormones, hot flashes and night sweats tend to occur less often and can even go away over time. Slowly reducing HT may make these symptoms less bothersome.
Hormone therapy can also be very helpful in relieving:
At one time, HT was used to help prevent thinning bones. That is no longer the case. Your doctor can prescribe other medicines to treat osteoporosis.
Studies show that HT does not help treat:
Be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks of HT. These risks may be different depending on your age, medical history, and other factors.
Taking HT may increase your risk for blood clots. Your risk of blood clots is also higher if you are obese or if you smoke.
Your risk of blood clots may be lower if you use estrogen skin patches instead of pills.
Your risk is lower if you use vaginal creams and tablets and the low-dose estrogen ring.
ENDOMETRIAL (UTERINE) CANCER
HT is safest when taken before age 60 or within 10 years after starting menopause.
Women who take only estrogen and who take estrogen with progesterone have an increased risk of stroke. Using the estrogen patch instead of an oral pill decreases this risk. However, it is still increased compared to not taking any hormones at all.
Taking hormone therapy may increase your risk of gallstones.
Every woman is different. Some women aren't bothered by menopause symptoms. For others, symptoms are severe and affect their lives significantly.
If menopause symptoms bother you, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of HT. You and your doctor can decide if hormone therapy is right for you. Your doctor should know your medical history before prescribing HT.
You should not take hormone therapy if you:
However, for many women, taking HT is a safe way to treat menopause symptoms, as long as you take it:
If you have vaginal bleeding or other unusual symptoms during hormone therapy, call your doctor.
Be sure to continue seeing your doctor for regular checkups.
HRT - deciding; Estrogen replacement therapy - deciding; ERT; Hormone replacement therapy - deciding
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Hormone therapy and heart disease. Committee Opinion No. 565. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121:1407-10.
Davis SR, Davidson SL. Current perspectives on testosterone therapy for women. Menopausal Medicine. 2012;20(2).
Management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: 2010 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. 2010;17:25-54; quiz 55-56.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. 2013. http://nof.org/files/nof/public/content/file/2157/upload/872.pdf. Accessed October 29, 2013.
North American Menopause Society. Position Statement: The 2012 Hormone Therapy Position Statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. 2012; 19 (3): 257-271.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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