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Hormone Replacement Therapy in Women


What is hormone replacement therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is medicine to replace your low hormone levels. HRT is most common for women who are going through menopause. HRT contains estrogen and sometimes progestin.

What are hormones and how do they work?

Hormones are chemicals that your body makes to control certain body functions. The main female hormones are estrogen and progesterone. These are made by your ovaries. These hormones are an important part of your reproductive system.

What are the signs and symptoms of low hormone levels?

  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep loss
  • Depression, nervousness, or tiredness
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Vaginal dryness

Why might I have low hormone levels?

  • Menopause is the most common reason for low hormone levels. The average age when a woman's monthly period stops is 51 years.
  • Removal of your ovaries. Menopause symptoms start right away after ovaries are removed. This happens because there is no more estrogen in your body.
  • Excessive exercise or weight loss can cause your estrogen level to decrease. Your monthly periods may also stop.

Who should not take HRT?

You should not take HRT if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer in the lining of your uterus or cancer of your ovaries
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • History of blood clots
  • History of smoking, or current tobacco use
  • Liver disease
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding

What else should I know about HRT?

HRT helps prevent osteoporosis, which decreases your risk for bone fractures. HRT also protects you from colorectal cancer. HRT may increase your risk for breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.

How often should I follow up with my healthcare provider?

You will need to return to see your healthcare provider at least once a year. You may need tests, such a pap smear or mammogram. Your healthcare provider will ask how you are responding to HRT, and change your dose if needed.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You are depressed.
  • You have abdominal pain or cramping.
  • You have swollen or tender breasts.
  • You have more vaginal bleeding than expected.
  • You have sudden weight gain or loss.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You are confused.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.