Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used primarily to relieve the symptoms of menopause in women. This is achieved by restoring the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) which are decreasing as menopause is approaching.
When Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Recommended?
This form of therapy is recommended by doctors for women who complain of the side effects of menopause. Such unpleasant symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Sweating at night
- Reduced libido
- Dry vagina.
Left untreated, these symptoms take a few years to wear off naturally. However, they can affect the patient’s quality of life and self-confidence – often, to a greater extent than one might imagine – and this is why hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to them.
How Many Types of HRT Treatments Exist?
There are many ways of administering hormone replacement therapy. This is a highly personalized form of treatment, because the doctor will take many factors into account.
Thus, HRT Highlands Ranch board certified physicians may recommend a treatment consisting of only one type of hormone or a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Also, the treatment plan may involve taking the medicine continuously, or in cycles.
There are various ways of taking hormone replacement therapy:
- Skin patches
- Vaginal creams or rings
This variety takes into account the way patients respond to the treatment and the specific symptoms they may complain of.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?
The hormonal system has a delicate balance and upsetting it can cause many side effects in the human body. Some years ago, there was even a controversy that HRT may cause breast or ovarian cancer, but it was properly explained by the American Cancer Society: it all depends on the patient’s risk level and the type of therapy prescribed by the doctor.
However, there are situations when preexisting conditions are incompatible with HRT. These are:
- Blood clots
- Heart or liver disease
- Heart attack
- Breast, uterine or endometrial cancer.
What Kind of Side Effects May Patients Experience?
Any kind of hormone-based treatment comes with various side effects, some milder, some more serious. In the case of HRT, the most common side effects that patients have reported:
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- Vaginal bleeding.
It is important to inform your doctor of any such side effects. These may be solved by changing the dosage or even the type of treatment or the way you administer it.
Who Should Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
While primarily used by women at menopause, there are other categories of patients who may benefit from HRT. Among these, we mention:
- patients who went through gender reassignment surgery,
- men suffering from prostate cancer,
- as a form of birth control for women.
Various studies indicate that hormone replacement therapy may also prove beneficial for:
- patients with muscle function problems
- patients with risk of heart failure and heart attacks
- prevention of premature skin aging.
However, the results for this last category of benefits listed are not 100% conclusive yet – more research is needed to confirm them.