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Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Overview

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is a treatment that introduces oestrogen or other hormones into the body, usually to help replace lost hormones or low hormone levels. Most commonly, oestrogen will be used almost exclusively in HRT, and it is typically given to women who are entering menopause or who have had a hysterectomy.

During menopause, the protective layer of the vagina stops shedding. This can cause uterine cells to build up, creating ideal conditions for cancer to develop. By introducing more oestrogen into the body, this condition can be prevented.

Who Should Get HRT?

Doctors usually recommend HRT to women who are premenopausal or already in menopause. They will counsel them about their choices and often recommend hormone therapy as the best option. There isn’t a particular age where menopause normally sets in. While it is common for it to set in by age 51, many women experience menopause much sooner or later. HRT is ideal for younger menopausal women, as it carries few risks for them and can actually come with a number of benefits.

What Forms of HRT are Available?

HRT comes in many forms- ointment, patch, a gel or a pill. There are different times when one method will be preferred over another. For instance, the ointment is used for problems that are local to one area. The ointment can be applied to that area and have little effect on the rest of the body.

Medical experts realise that the patch method is the most effective, though, as well as very safe. It bypasses the filtration of the liver, ensuring it can enter the bloodstream quickly and become effective almost immediately. By going around the liver, it sidesteps one of the bigger health risks that are associated with HRT.

What are the Risks of HRT?

The biggest risk is to any woman over 50. HRT can artificially increase their oestrogen levels to a point that can be dangerous for their heart. Some women older than 50 who receive hormone treatments can suffer from cardiovascular problems and they may be at greater risk of heart disease due to the increased oestrogen in their body. However, this risk does not last long, and it will decrease in time.

Anyone with liver disease is at greater risk for complications if they receive hormone therapy as well. They should consult a doctor before using HRT and have their risks assessed. For them, the patch method may be the best treatment method in helping them to avoid most potential side effects.

What are the Benefits of HRT?

There are a number of benefits to taking HRT. By receiving this treatment when you are young, you can lay a foundation for good hormonal health that greatly decreases your risk of many different kinds of cancer and diseases. You can also improve your bone health, as oestrogen helps you to improve the way your body processes Vitamin D.

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