What are the risks of hormone replacement therapy?

HRT comes with benefits and risks

While HRT (hormone replacement therapy) offers many benefits, it also comes with some potential risks. We’re going to examine what those risks are so you can be better informed about this treatment method:

What Is HRT?

HRT helps to boost or regulate the hormone levels in the body. It is typically reserved for women who have low hormone levels due to menopause or a surgical procedure, but it can be implemented for many different reasons.

The most commonly used hormones for this therapy are oestrogen and progesterone. These two hormones offer numerous benefits, but the process of adding in new hormones or simply boosting certain types of hormones can cause problems.

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The Risks of HRT

Elderly women are more likely to be at risk when receiving HRT treatment. Anyone over 50 is at greater risk for cardiovascular complications resulting from this treatment. Increasing oestrogen levels in the body at that stage in life can be dangerous for the heart, but this is a risk that doesn’t continue to rise or even stay at its elevated condition. As the treatment continues, the risk actually decreases to a safe level.

Anyone with liver or thyroid disease are at risk of complications related to their condition if they receive HRT. There are ways around this problem, as an HRT patch has been shown to bypass the liver entirely and make the treatment much safer for those suffering from liver disease.

There is also the chance that taking combined HRT (which is both oestrogen and progesterone at the same time) can increase a woman’s risk of experiencing certain types of cancer. While there is no conclusive proof, and there is no conflicting research, there is a chance that the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer could increase with HRT treatment. The risk, it is estimated, is likely very small. Anybody with a family history of these types of cancer is likely at greater risk, and they should be more careful when receiving this treatment.

Another very low risk, but women still need to be aware of, is that of blood clots. If women take HRT in the tablet form, they will be four times as likely to suffer from blood clots. However, menopausal women are very unlikely to suffer from blood clots at all.

As with any risk associated with medical treatment, if you already are at risk for certain health complications before you receive a treatment, then those risks will be elevated once the treatment begins. Anyone with pre-existing medical conditions should take extra consideration when planning to receive HRT.

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