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FAQ – Hormone Replacement Therapy

What are the risks of HRT?

HRT can also reduce a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis and cancer of the colon and rectum. However, long-term use is rarely recommended, and bone density will fall rapidly after HRT is stopped.

HRT slightly increases the risk of developing breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and stroke. Other medicines are available to treat osteoporosis that do not carry the same level of associated risk.

Most experts agree if HRT is used on a short-term basis (no more than five years), the benefits outweigh the risks.

If HRT is taken for longer, particularly for more than 10 years, you should discuss your individual risks with your GP and review them on an annual basis.

What is hormonal replacement t therapy?

Hormonal relpacement therapy is a treatment used to relieve symptoms of menopause. It replaces the female hormones no longer produced after menopause.

The menopause, sometimes referred to as the “change of life”, is when a woman’s ovaries stop producing an egg every four weeks. This means that she will no longer have monthly periods or be able to have children. The menopause usually occurs when a woman is in her 50s (the average age is 52).

How is HRT taken?

There are several ways HRT can be taken, including:

  • as a cream or gel, which can be applied to the skin or directly into the vagina if you are experiencing vaginal dryness
  • tablets, which can be taken by mouth or placed directly into your vagina to treat dryness
  • a patch that you stick on your skin
  • an implant, under local anaesthetic, small pellets of oestrogen are inserted under the skin of your tummy, buttock or thigh 

What are the benefits of HRT?

Over the years, many studies have been carried out looking at the benefits and risks of HRT.

The main benefit is that it is a very effective method of controlling menopause symptoms. It can make a significant difference to a woman’s quality of life and wellbeing.

HRT can also reduce a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis and cancer of the colon and rectum. However, long-term use is rarely recommended, and bone density will fall rapidly after HRT is stopped.

Possible side effects of HRT

Hormones used in HRT can have associated side effects including:

  • fluid retention
  • bloating
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • depression

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