Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is given to some women whose estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly because of the menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones. HRT tops up a woman’s levels of essential hormones. HRT may also refer to male hormonal treatment, as well as for individuals who undergo a sex change.
Many of the “symptoms” that we notice with aging are actually due to declining hormone levels associated with aging. It’s inevitable! As we age, our body produces less hormones and our hormone levels will drop! Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and Testosterone are perfect examples of this.
The patient can start HRT as soon as menopausal symptoms begin. Most women have the menopause at around 52 years of age, according to the National Health Service (NHS), UK. However, ages can range from early forties to well into the sixties. We cannot predict when a woman starts to have her menopause.
There are three main types of HRT for menopausal women. HRT with only estrogen, those who have had a hysterectomy where their uterus (womb) and ovaries have been removed do not need progesterone, because there is no risk of endometrial cancer. Cyclical HRT, for patients who are still menstruating but have menopausal-like symptoms, continuous HRT, used for post-menopausal patients. They take a continuous combination of estrogen and progestogen.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an effective treatment for the typical menopause-related symptoms. There are also other long-term health problems associated with the menopause: the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke all increase after the menopause. HRT may also have an influence on these health problems, though it should be noted that it does not necessarily reduce their risk for all women.
Hormone replacement therapy can help vasometer symptoms, including sleep or mood disturbances, urogential symptoms, it prevents osteoporosis and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Hormone replacement therapy also helps women with premature menopause for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis until 50 years (taken as the age of natural menopause). Reduced libido and sexual function will not be directly affected by HRT. Loss of libido after surgical menopause has been assisted by testosterone therapy. But there are potential adverse effects and advice on dosing should be sought from a specialist. Women who would like HRT but have a contra-indication to it (e.g. current or past breast or endometrial cancer) should be referred for specialist advice.