Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy

By Roopa Meda, M.D.
Samaritan Women’s Care
350 Hillcrest Drive
419-207-2513

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a medical treatment which replaces female hormones that are no longer produced after menopause. Menopause is defined as the absence of periods for 12 months, and generally occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, with the average age being 51 years. Some women have symptoms prior to the complete cessation of menstruation, which is called perimenopause. Menopause also occurs when the ovaries are removed surgically.

Hormone replacement therapy medications are available in pill, patch, ring, cream, gel or vaginal tablets, and can be given as either estrogen/progesterone combination or estrogen alone. The estrogen/progesterone combination is used for women who undergo natural menopause with an intact uterus and estrogen is used with surgical menopause patients.

Prior to 2002, hormone replacement therapy was a standard treatment for hot flashes and vaginal dryness symptoms such as irritation, itching, burning or pain during intercourse. However, a large clinical trial and its outcomes changed the attitude toward hormone replacement therapy. It is not for everyone and it is no longer recommended as a long term management of menopausal symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy has been linked to an increased risk of serious problems such as blood clots, stroke, gallstones and breast disease including cancer. Possible side effects include bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, weight gain, vaginal discharge, headaches, and mood swings.

Consider avoiding hormone replacement therapy if you have a history of blood clots, breast cancer or heart disease, of if you are not bothered by menopausal symptoms. There are other options like lifestyle modifications and other medications you can try to control menopausal symptoms.

Despite the health risks posed by hormone replacement therapy, its benefits may out- weigh the risks when used in the lowest dose possible for the shortest duration. Hormone replacement therapy can be used for women with moderate to severe hot flashes, osteoporosis that is not responding to other treatments, significant vaginal dryness and painful intercourse not responding to other alternatives.
Short-term use of hormone replacement therapy may also provide protective benefits against osteoporosis and colon cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy could still be an option for your symptoms. You may call 419-207-2513 to speak with health care providers at Samaritan Women’s Care to discuss the options that best suite you.