Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to supplement the body with either estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone in combination. It’s typically used to relieve symptoms of menopause, a natural process where a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels decline.
The main reasons women take HRT are to alleviate menopausal symptoms, which can include:
- Hot flashes: A sudden sensation of heat in the upper body, which can start in the face, neck or chest, and can cause sweating and palpitations.
- Night sweats and sleeping problems.
- Mood changes: These can range from mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
- Vaginal symptoms: Lower estrogen levels can affect the moisture and elasticity of the vagina, causing symptoms such as dryness, itching, and discomfort during sex.
- Bone loss: Postmenopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition that makes the bones weak and more likely to break.
HRT can be very effective in relieving these symptoms and is sometimes also used for preventive reasons, for example, to protect against osteoporosis.
However, HRT isn’t for everyone. It’s not typically recommended for women who’ve had certain types of cancers, have liver disease, or have a history of blood clots. In some women, HRT has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Each woman’s situation is unique, so it’s important to have a detailed discussion with a healthcare provider about the potential benefits and risks.
Men can also undergo hormone replacement therapy, often for symptoms related to low levels of testosterone, a condition known as hypogonadism. This therapy may help to improve mood, increase energy levels, and improve sexual function.
In any case, the decision to start HRT should always involve a comprehensive discussion with your healthcare provider about your individual symptoms, medical history, and personal and family health risks.