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Hormone Replacement Therapy

Also called: ERT, Estrogen replacement therapy, HRT, Menopausal hormone therapy
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Summary

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her period stops. It is a normal part of aging. In the years before and during menopause, the levels of female hormones can go up and down. This can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, pain during sex, and vaginal dryness. For some women, the symptoms are mild, and they go away on their own. Other women take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), also called menopausal hormone therapy, to relieve these symptoms. HRT may also protect against osteoporosis.

HRT is not for everyone. You should not use HRT if you

  • Think that you are pregnant
  • Have problems with vaginal bleeding
  • Have had certain kinds of cancers
  • Have had a stroke or heart attack
  • Have had blood clots
  • Have liver disease

There are different types of HRT. Some have only one hormone, while others have two. Most are pills that you take every day, but there are also skin patches, vaginal creams, gels, and rings.

Taking HRT has some risks. For some women, hormone therapy may increase their chances of getting blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. Certain types of HRT have a higher risk, and each woman's own risks can vary, depending upon her health history and lifestyle. You and your health care provider need to discuss the risks and benefits for you. If you do decide to take HRT, it should be the lowest dose that helps and for the shortest time needed. You should check if you still need to take HRT every 3-6 months.

Food and Drug Administration

Start Here

  • Easy-to-Read (Food and Drug Administration)

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Related Issues

  • (Hormone Health Network) - PDF Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • Easy-to-Read (Food and Drug Administration)
  • (North American Menopause Society) - PDF

Specifics

  • (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in
  • (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in

Patient Handouts