What is hormone replacement therapy?

Updated on August 8, 2019

Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy.

It would be an understatement to say that women go through a lot in terms of their physical development, including difficulties related to periods, childbearing, and the unpleasant experiences associated with menopause. From the name itself, menopause can be simply described as the end of the menstrual cycle and is a normal condition experienced as women age. The particular experience can vary from person to person, but menopause marks the end of the reproductive phase of a woman’s life.

What Causes Menopause?

As mentioned above, menopause is a normal occurrence in women. It is a result of aging and typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the median age of onset being 54. However, it can also occur before this age due to premature ovarian failure (caused by chromosome abnormalities, infection, or certain cancer treatments).

Women are born with a limited number of egg cells in their ovaries, which must last throughout their lives (no egg cells are replenished during reproductive years). The ovaries are also responsible for the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These control menstruation and ovulation. When the eggs in the ovaries run out, this marks the beginning of menopause.

Many different symptoms can accompany menopause. These include insomnia, hot flashes, moodiness, irritability, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, urinary problems, thinning of hair, and even depression. These symptoms may vary from woman to woman, with some not experiencing any symptoms while others may suffer them on an elevated level.

Relief for Menopause Symptoms: Hormone Replacement Therapy

There are ways you can combat the symptoms of menopause, like exercising and not smoking to prevent it from prevailing and taking over your life. The most notable is probably Hormone Replacement Therapy. This therapy relieves the symptoms by replacing hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause, such as estrogen and progesterone. 

Although HRT can sometimes have side-effects (including bloating, nausea, and headaches) these usually improve over time and it’s commonly believed that the benefits outweigh the risks. However, it’s important to note that in rare cases, HRT has also been associated with more severe issues, including an increased risk of blood clots and certain types of cancer.

Taking the treatment for a couple of years is enough to clear off the symptoms of menopause. There is a slightly increased risk of breast cancer if HRT is used for more than five years. If you have been taking HRT for more than five years, it is advisable to consult your doctor about stopping the treatment to reduce the risk.

Research has proven that the best way to take HRT is in small doses. It will still be enough to control the symptoms of menopause. 

Further advantages of HRT that have been proved are:

• A reduction in the risk of heart failure and heart attack.

A decreased risk of depression.

• Boosting muscle ability.

• The treatment lowers mortality in younger women after menopause.

• It is also said to reduce the aging of the skin in some women.

Combinations of HRT which are commonly used are; Estrogen HRT, Cyclical HRT, Long-cycle HRT and Continuous HRT (a combination of estrogen and progesterone), all these formulations work differently and are given depending on the level and stage of your menopause period.

HRT can be administered in various ways according to your preference. These are; tablets, vagina rings, creams and gels, and skin patches.


Before deciding whether to take hormone therapy, it is important that you do proper research and fully understand the treatment. Also consult your doctor for more advice on what route to follow and what best fits you. You should be able to weigh the individual risks involved with this form of treatment, its pros and cons. HRT could be hazardous to a small percentage of women, and it is key you find out if you fall under this category before starting treatment.


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