hormone therapy, HRT, progesterone, estrogen, different kinds of hormone replacement therapy, side effects, women's health, gynecology, OBGYN, obstetrics, hormones When should a woman consider hormone replacement therapy, and what are the different kinds of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)? Keep reading to find out.

When Should I Consider Hormone Therapy?

During menopause, your estrogen levels fall. Common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and incontinence.

Are you looking for relief?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is also known as estrogen replacement therapy, hormone therapy, or menopausal hormone therapy. HRT is an effective treatment for menopause symptoms. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of HRT can help you decide whether it’s the best solution for you.

The Different Kinds of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Estrogen Therapy

Doctors usually suggest that women who have had a hysterectomy (which removes the uterus) receive a low dose of estrogen. Estrogen comes in different forms, such as a ring, gel, or spray. But the daily pill and patch are the most popular.

  • Estrogen pill. Pills are the most common treatment for menopausal symptoms. If using this HRT, you will take one pill a day without food. Combination pills that include both estrogen and progestin are also available.
  • Estrogen patch. Women who choose this option wear the patch on the skin of their stomach. Some estrogen patches require replacement every few days. Others you can wear for a week, depending on the dose. Combination estrogen and progestin patches are also available. One patch, Menostar, has a lower dose of estrogen than other patches. It’s only used for reducing the risk of osteoporosis and doesn’t help with other menopause symptoms.
  • Topical Estrogen. Creams, gels, and sprays absorb directly into the bloodstream through the skin. The specifics of applying these creams vary. Although you usually apply them once a day.
  • Vaginal estrogen. Vaginal estrogen comes in a cream, vaginal ring, or vaginal estrogen tablet. Typically, these treatments are for women experiencing vaginal dryness, itchiness, and pain during sexual intercourse. Most vaginal rings need changing four times a year or every three months. A doctor might recommend tablets to be used daily to twice a week. Vaginal estrogen creams might be used daily, several times a week, or less frequently.
  • Hormone Subdermal Pellets. Subcutaneous Hormone Pellets are smaller than a grain of rice placed under the skin tissue. They provide a slow release of hormones into the bloodstream and last 3-6 months.

Estrogen/Progesterone/Progestin HRT

Because it combines doses of estrogen and progestin, this hormone therapy is often called combination therapy.

It’s best for women who still have their uterus because taking estrogen with progesterone lowers the risk for cancer of the endometrium and the uterus lining.

Progesterone can help treat many menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. Progestin is the synthetic form of progesterone. Many doctors now treat most menopausal patients with natural progesterone, taken in a pill. Women with high cholesterol levels might benefit from natural progesterone.

When Shouldn’t I Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?

If you have experienced blood clots, cancer, heart disease, or a stroke, you may want to avoid HRT.

Talk to your doctor to see if the different kinds of hormone replacement therapy can still work for you or what alternatives are available.

What Are the Side Effects of HRT?

HRT can come with some uncomfortable side effects.

  • Bloating
  • Breast swelling or tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal bleeding

If you want more information about whether hormone replacement therapy is right for you, contact Creekside Center for Women to make an appointment or call 479.582.9268.