Consider Pros And Cons Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Health Topics

When a woman goes through menopause, she stops having menstrual periods, and the process can sometimes lead to a variety of other symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

One option for combating some of the symptoms of menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What exactly is HRT? Dr. J. Scott Bembry answers, and explains how HRT restores low levels of hormones to treat symptoms like hot flashes

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

With HRT, you can relieve menopause symptoms with estrogen and/or progestin. Women can take only estrogen if they have had a hysterectomy, but if they still have their uterus, they need to take both estrogen and progestin.

There are two types of hormone therapy available – systemic and local. With systemic therapy, hormones are released into the bloodstream and go to the organs and tissues that need it, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). 

Local therapy is a cream, ring, or suppository. It doesn’t get into the blood stream and is for women suffering from vaginal dryness.

HRT can be beneficial, according to ACOG, by:

  • Helping with vaginal dryness
  • Protecting against bone loss that can lead to hip and spine fractures
  • Reducing the risk of colon cancer
  • Relieving hot flashes, especially at night

There are also risks to HRT. Some risks include:

  • Breast cancer (small but increased risk)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (small but increased risk)
  • Gallbladder (small but increased risk)
  • Heart attack (small but increased risk)
  • Stroke (small but increased risk)
  • Uterine lining growth, which can increase the risk of uterine cancer

Currently, HRT is recommended to be used to treat symptoms of menopause, but only on a limited basis. It’s recommended that women take time to weigh the risks and benefits and talk with their doctor about the best option for their individual health needs.

ACOG also recommends that women who do chose to use HRT use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible amount of time. 

It’s important also to reevaluate the therapy often to reconsider the benefits and risks, according to the ACOG. Talk with your doctor about how HRT is working for you, and if you have any new symptoms or side effects from the hormones – especially vaginal bleeding. Review your HRT at least once a year with your doctor.

Premier Health Logo