WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
By Dr Abdishakur Ali (G.P)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps to create a balance between progesterone and oestrogen levels during menopause. Oestrogen and progesterone are hormones produced by glands in your body. They are responsible for the development of sexual functions in humans.
Your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy for several reasons. These include relief from hot flashes, sweating, and other menopause symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy also reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Some therapies contain oestrogen and progesterone. Other forms of therapy contain just oestrogen. Others may contain only testosterone, e.g. levonorgestrel, norethisterone, medroxyprogesterone, and dydrogesterone.
This article discusses the types of hormone replacement therapy, as well as their types, uses, and risks.
Benefits of hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy can address several health issues. The combination of hormones and the dosage depends on why you need the therapy.
Menopause isn’t an illness. It is just a transition between two phases of a woman’s life – from her reproductive years to the next phase.
Many people experience menopause without requiring treatment. However, if your menopause causes distracting or troubling symptoms, then there are many ways in which you can be treated.
Women may experience the following symptoms during menopause:
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Urinary problems
- Sleep problems
- Thinning hair
- Osteoporosis or bone thinning
- Irregular periods
- Difficulties with memory and concentration.
With hormone replacement therapy, you can manage the symptoms.
Also, studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy can help with:
- Improvement of muscle function
- Prevent aging when used with caution
- Reduce the risk of death from heart attacks and heart failure
However, there’s a need for more research to be able to confirm these benefits.
Hormone replacement therapy and osteoporosis
Hormone replacement therapy is approved for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in women.
Estrogen reduces the risk of fractures in women, but it could also put them at risk of other health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer.
There are four types of hormone replacement therapy for osteoporosis namely:
- Sequential combined therapy
- Continuous combined therapy
- Oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy
Is hormone replacement therapy safe?
Hormone therapy was always used during menopause in the past. However, it may not be suitable or safe for everyone.
Currently, hormone replacement therapy is safe:
- For women up to the age of 59
- For vaginal dryness and moderate hot flashes
- When administered in very low doses, and for a very short duration
- Within 10 years of menopause
But then, the individual’s health should be a top priority.
What are the risks of hormone replacement therapy?
This form of treatment is not suitable for some groups of people. These include people who have had:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Blood clots of thrombosis
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Gallbladder disease
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Pregnant women should avoid it as well.
Side effects of hormone replacement therapy
Yes! Hormone replacement therapy can indeed manage menopause symptoms. However, it can have some side effects. These include:
- Breast tenderness
- Leg cramps
- Back pain or abdominal pain
- Swelling in the breasts
- Mood changes
- Vaginal bleeding
The side effects do not last long. They disappear after a couple of weeks. If you have any side effects, then let your doctor know. They will either adjust the dosage or give you an alternative.
How long should you take hormone replacement therapy?
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, hormone replacement therapy is effective for treating several menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis as well. Your GP can try treatment for three months to see if it helps. If it doesn’t, they may change your dose or the type of hormone replacement therapy you’re taking.
Types of hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy can be delivered in several ways. There are also different combinations of hormones.
The common types of hormone replacement therapy include:
- Cyclical hormone replacement therapy: this option is best if you experience your symptoms before menopause. The dosage may align with the menstrual cycle.
- Continuous hormone replacement therapy: combined therapy of progesterone and oestrogen is prescribed continuously even after menopause.
- Oestrogen-only therapy: This is recommended for people whose ovaries and uterus have been removed. Progesterone is not needed.
- Local oestrogen: Rings, creams, or vaginal tablets can relieve the urogenital symptoms, including irritation and dryness of the vagina.
How is hormone replacement therapy taken?
Your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose that can address your symptoms.
The therapy can be delivered in many ways including:
- Skin patches
- Vaginal rings
- Creams or gels
When the treatment is no longer needed, your doctor will draw a plan for stopping. Of course, this will be a gradual process.
AccessDoctor offers a wide range of hormone replacement therapy options. You’re just a call or email away from getting the best care. Our UK-trained doctors will guide you to select your treatment of choice.
Our therapy options include:
- Elleste Solo MX transdermal patch
- Evorel patches available in four strengths: 25mcg, 50mcg, 75mcg, and 100mcg
- Kliofem film-coated tablets which is beneficial in preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
- Kliovance 1mg/0.5mg film-coated tablets for relieve of menopause symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis.
- Livial 2.5mg tablets to treat menopause
- Premarin 0.625mg coated tablets for menopause and osteoporosis, and
- Premique low dose 0.3mg/1.5mg modified release tablets for treatment of menopause symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy helps with a wide range of health issues. A combination of certain hormones can relieve you of some menopause symptoms.
It is however important to note that hormone replacement therapy isn’t suitable for everyone. Your doctor can describe the potential benefits as well as the health risks in detail and also guide you on the right decision to make.
AccessDoctor has UK-trained doctors who will guide you on how to take this therapy. Also, our service is 100% confidential.