In short, the hormone replacement therapy uses medications that replace the hormones that woman’s body stops producing once menopause starts. The hormones in question are estrogen and progesterone.
In the beginning, people advertised this therapy as a way to reduce the risk of several critical conditions, but a large trial changed the opinion of the masses. The trial showed the risks the HRT carries, and this reduced the amount of women who went with it. Following tests revealed the flaws in that trial and once again the therapy became a widely used medication that fights against the negative menopause symptoms. Right now the HRT is recommended to women who suffer from those symptoms, but some guidelines exist to reduce the risk of several conditions the therapy may cause.
Hormone replacement therapy – Benefits and risks
The benefits of HRT vary depending on the type of the treatment a woman undergoes.
A systematic hormone therapy uses estrogen as only hormone and it is given to women that removed their uterus. They can take it as pills, skin patches, creams or other alternative forms. This type of treatment is the most efficient form of HRT when it comes to dealing with hot flashes and night sweats. This hormone also works well in treating other symptoms including vaginal dryness, discomfort, and burning during the intercourse.
The Food and Drug Administration still recommends this type of treatment as a good way to counter osteoporosis. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe this treatment, and they usually opt for bisphosphonates for this condition.
Low-dose vaginal therapy utilizes lower doses of estrogen (in ring, tablet and cream forms) to directly treat vaginal dryness and other symptoms directly connected to that particular area of the body. This type of treatment has no effect against night sweats and hot flashes.
Aggressive hormone replacement therapy will increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots. That is why doctors evaluate their patients on a regular basis. Women who went through hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) have a lower risk of these conditions and no increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
It all depends on the type of treatment and dosage. HRT that combines both estrogen and progestin make the breasts denser which reduces the chance of breast cancer detection. Prolonged use of this therapy increases the chance of breast cancer. The percentage of risk increase depends on the aggressiveness of the treatment. HRT that uses low amounts of these hormones has a subtle effect on risk of those conditions.
Who should undergo HRT?
The hormone replacement therapy isn’t a mandatory treatment. It’s up to a woman to decide whether they want to go through it or not. Doctors may advise women to go through the therapy, but they can’t force it upon them.
Women that experience severe (or even moderate) hot flashes or other symptoms mentioned above should undergo this treatment. Women who didn’t experience positive effects from other treatments should consider the hormone replacement therapy as well.