Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women (HRT)

PD Seniors SEN008 Hormone replacement therapy can be either estrogen alone (called estrogen replacement therapy, or ERT), or estrogen and progesterone combined. This combination is referred to as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Progesterone is usually given in the form of progestins, which are synthetic forms of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. While once widely used, HRT now has a more limited role because of concerns about its safety.


Estrogen is most commonly given in these forms:
  • Pill or tablet
  • Vaginal cream
  • Vaginal ring insert
  • Patch
  • Skin gel
Progestin is available in these forms:
  • Pill (can be combined with estrogen)
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Vaginal capsule
  • Injection
  • Implant
  • Skin gel

What This Medication Is Prescribed For

To Ease Menopausal Symptoms

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness

To Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis and Related Fractures

Estrogen is important for bone health. When the natural supply of estrogen drops off with menopause, HRT can help protect bones by replacing estrogen.

How This Medication Works

The hormones provided with HRT are meant to replace the natural hormones that a woman's body no longer produces after menopause. Estrogen is involved in many functions in the body, and therefore, HRT is believed to provide the following benefits:
  • Reduce the symptoms of menopause
  • Helps to slow or prevent the bone loss that occurs with aging and increases after menopause, in order to help delay osteoporosis
  • Helps to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer

Precautions While Using This Medication

Long-term use of HRT (estrogen plus progestin) may significantly increase women's risks of breast cancer , strokes , heart attacks , and blood clots. ERT may also increase the risk of ovarian cancer . HRT has been associated with an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). For many women the risks of HRT—especially when used long-term—may outweigh the benefits, so the decision to use HRT should be carefully considered and discussed with your doctor. Women with the following conditions are usually advised not to take HRT:
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High levels of triglycerides—a type of fat in the blood
  • History of blood clots in the veins
  • History of breast or uterine cancer
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • History of stroke
  • Other conditions—ask your doctor if any of your medical conditions increase the risks of taking HRT

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