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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a type of hormonal treatment used to alleviate symptoms of menopause in women. During menopause the balance of hormones in the body changes which can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is unable to get pregnant naturally. This typically happens between the ages of 40-55.
During menopause the level of oestrogen hormone in the body declines causing symptoms. These symptoms can vary between individuals but are often characterised by:
Hormone replacement therapy works by balancing the body’s natural hormones causing a reduction in side effects from menopause.
Oestrogen only HRT is acceptable for women who have had a hysterectomy or IUD fitted.
Women who have not had a hysterectomy or IUD fitted will need to take a progesterone alongside oestrogen to enable counter effects of the womb lining thickening.
The type of hormone replacement therapy suitable for you will be advised by your doctor. Always follow the advice of your doctor or pharmacist before you commence treatment with a HRT.
Oestrogen only HRT’s are available in patches or oral tablets and are only suitable for women who have had a hysterectomy or IUD fitted. Combined HRT is suitable for women who have not had a hysterectomy or IUD fitted depositing both oestrogen and progesterone into the body.
Examples of oestrogen only HRT’s are:
Combined progesterone and oestrogen HRT’s include:
The effects on HRT on your period vary. If you are concerned about your cycle please talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Women who have menopausal symptoms, but have also had a period in the last 12 months, are recommended to use a form of combined HRT. Taking HRT monthly usually causes a synthetic bleed every 4 weeks and is recommended for women experiencing regular periods.
With many medications their are risks and precautions. HRT is considered safe to use but is important that you recognise any precautions with the medication and discuss concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.
Always read the patient information leaflet of your medication before you commence treatment.
Women who are under the age of 60 and within 10 years of the onset of menopause are likely to experience the full benefits of HRT. When you begin to take a new treatment of HRT your starting date will depend on if you are already taking HRT or if you have a regular period. Discuss with your doctor when you should start taking HRT.
A full assessment of your menopause is usually performed before you are prescribed any treatment to ensure that it is the best solution to begin taking HRT.
Hormone replacement therapy is great at reducing the symptoms of menopause that could be disrupting your day to day life by supplementing the body’s natural hormones.
If you have more questions regarding HRT please read your medication patient information leaflet.
Alternatively you can use our free Ask-a-Pharmacist service, we are here to help Monday-Friday 9-5pm!
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