How To Take Hormone Replacement Therapy? Its Benefits And Risks

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) provides relief from many symptoms associated with menopause. HRT can be administered in the following ways-

  • Estrogen and Progesterone Therapy: Estrogen and Progesterone can be taken in pills, patches, injections and creams. Continuous therapy is given daily either via a pill or a patch.
  • Oral Hormones: HRT can be offered on a cycle where hormones are given for a period of time and then withheld for a specific time. Oral hormones taken in a pill form are convenient. They are not as effective for some women as intramuscular injects. One of the problems with this way of taking HRT is that the pill may be digested before enough of the hormone can be released into the system.
  • Intramuscular Injections: Intramuscular injects is another means of taking hormones. Intramuscular injections are given every few weeks and may cause hormone fluctuations as the hormones are absorbed into the system.
  • Hormone Patches: Some women like the convenience of using trans-dermal patches as a way to take HRT. Patches are worn continuous and supply a steady stream of hormones. Some women have reported skin rashes while using patches.
  • Vaginal hormone creams: These creams are applied directly onto the vagina. It is an effective way to help reduce vagina symptoms of menopause such as dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall.
    Progestins are occasionally given via the use of suppositories.
  • Hormone Pellets: Subcutaneous pellets are a way of taking HRT whereby pellets are inserted under the skin. However, the drawback of this method is if the dosage is wrong or the pellet has to be removed it requires surgery. Also, it has side effects such as weight gain.

Benefits Of Postmenopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy

  • Hormone replacement is therapeutic and useful for a wide assortment of menopausal symptoms.
  • In menopausal women, it helps regulate the flow of estrogen and in the process decreases the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats.
  • It offers protection from bone loss, colorectal cancer and heart disease.
  • Hormone replacement may make sexual relationships better and more satisfying for menopausal women because it combats vaginal dryness and discomfort frequently experienced by menopausal women. As hormones produced in the ovaries decline after menopause, changes in the vagina as a result can make intercourse uncomfortable.
  • Estrogen provides benefits of hormone replacement by keeping the vagina more elastic and reduces thinning and drying of the tissue.

Risks Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

However, there is a significant body of evidence that suggests hormone replacement therapy can be risky and shouldn’t be used for long term (Woman’s Health Initiative).  Though hormone replacement therapy eases menopause problems, women who are considering it should be mindful of the risks.

Prolonged use of hormones may increase the risk of heart disease. There are changes in the urinary tract as a result of the loss of naturally occurring hormones. As a result of these changes, many women experience problems of leakage and sometimes incontinence.

During the landmark 2002 study by the Woman’s Health Initiative it was discovered that women on hormone replacement therapy were more likely to exhibit blood clots, stroke, heart disease and breast cancer.

There are some alternative treatments that provide a measure of relief for menopausal symptoms such as the use of biological identical hormones, natural phyto-estrogens such as soy, and herbal formulas when the benefits of hormone replacement are desired without the risks.