What is Hormones Replacement Therapy?

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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment technique used to treat hormone-deficient individuals. The most common type of hormone replacement therapy is the estrogen replacement therapy commonly used to manage menopausal symptoms. There are great benefits to HRT; however, the risks may outweigh the benefits in some cases. The risks associated with HRT are associated with the hormone given, the dose, frequency, and other underlying clinical conditions.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for HRT?

Hormone replacement therapy is typically used to treat menopause symptoms. The eligibility criteria for HRT include the following:

  • Menopausal women at risk of developing bone fractures
  • Menopausal women with osteoporosis
  • Menopausal women with vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats
  • Menopausal women with atrophic vaginitis
  • Persons who develop early estrogen deficiency due to surgical removal of the ovaries

Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy, particularly estrogen therapy, can be delivered in two main ways. These form the basis for classification for hormone therapy. These two forms of delivery are:

1. Systemic Therapy

This type of therapy involves delivering high doses of estrogen in the form of pills, skin patches, or rings. This type of therapy is advocated for persons who require immediate estrogen therapy. It is used to treat severe menopausal symptoms.

2. Low dose Vaginal Therapy

This type of therapy is ideal for women experiencing excessive vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy. The therapy entails using vaginal inserts, cream, rings, and other low-dose vaginal preparations.

What are the Benefits of HRT?

There are many benefits to hormone replacement therapy. The benefits include the following:

1. Improves the Quality of Life

Hormone replacement therapy improves the quality of life for menopausal women. This is especially true for women with vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. These symptoms can reduce sleep duration and quality, affecting work productivity and social relationships. Hormone replacement therapy reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes, increasing sleep duration and quality. This can improve work productivity and social relationships. Additionally, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, thereby preventing bone fractures in menopausal women who are at risk for developing osteoporosis.

2. Lowers the Chance of Developing Cancer

Hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. Estrogen is known to stimulate cell growth, whereas progesterone suppresses cell growth. When estrogen levels fall after menopause, the cells in the colon begin to grow rapidly, which increases the risk of developing colon cancer. Hormone replacement therapy can reduce this risk by providing the body with estrogen and progesterone.

3. Enhances Cognitive Function

Hormone replacement therapy has been shown to improve cognitive function in menopausal women. In a study involving 56 postmenopausal women, hormone replacement therapy was found to be more effective than a placebo for improving memory and cognition in menopausal women. The improvement was seen after only two months of treatment with hormone replacement therapy.

4. Can Help Treat Other Conditions

Hormone replacement therapy can also be used to treat other conditions in addition to menopause symptoms. These conditions include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Endometriosis
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Depression

What are the Risks of HRT?

There are risks associated with hormone replacement therapy. Those who use the therapy may experience:

  • Breast cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dryness of the skin and lips
  • Gynecomastia (enlargement of the breast)
  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
  • Cervical and uterine cancer
  • Development of blood clots, especially with oral HRT tablets
  • Stroke
  • Myocardial infarction

Therefore, women at risk of developing breast, cervical, or uterine cancer are not advised to get hormone replacement therapy as it may trigger or aggravate cancer.

Other Contraindications of HRT

Before prescribing hormone replacement therapy, a physician will assess the needs and risks of the patient individually. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy is contraindicated. Examples of such cases include:

  • Patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular issues
  • Patients with clotting disorders or at high risk of developing a clot
  • Patients diagnosed with amenorrhea

Bottom line, hormone replacement therapy is ideal for women experiencing moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. However, there is a need to consult a specialist because of the risks associated with HRT. A specialist will tailor the dose and frequency of HRT medication based on your needs. For more information on hormone replacement therapy, reach us on 205-352-9141.

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