What is hormone replacement therapy and how is HRT used to treat women going through menopause?

MANY women of menopause may have heard those three letters as “HRT,” but have no idea what it really is and if it’s for them.

Menopause can be a confusing time, with symptoms in general starting in the mid 40s and lasted many years to the end.

Hormone replacement therapy may alleviate some of the painful symptoms of menopause


Hormone replacement therapy may alleviate some of the painful symptoms of menopauseCredit: Alamy

Experiences can vary from person to person – while a lucky few will have no problem with the “transition”, others will experience debilitating symptoms that are life-changing. their life.

People who are struggling may benefit from HRT (hormone replacement therapy), which is used to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and night sweats.

In fact, many women say it changed their lives.

But do Decades of misinformationMany women may be afraid to use HRT and doctors may be reluctant to prescribe it.

It means millions of people may be missing out on HRT, considered the most effective way to treat menopausal symptoms.

The Sun’s Amazing Menopause Issues campaign was launched in October 2021 to empower women to claim the healthy menopause they deserve, calling for free HRT for all people.

Here we explain what treatment is, why it needs to be more accessible, and whether you or someone you love could benefit…

What is hormone replacement therapy?

HRT is a treatment that uses estrogen and progesterone to relieve menopausal symptoms.

These are the two main hormones that naturally decline during menopause.

Treat with both (combined HRT) or estrogen-only HRT, depending on the woman’s needs.

Since therapy replaces the hormones that the body is lacking, it is considered one of the most effective remedies for ailments including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced sex drive

There are different ways to take HRT and it can be given through tablets, skin patches, vaginal gels and creams, pessary or rings.

Who can use HRT?

Hormone replacement therapy is widely available to those who are fighting menopausal symptoms.

The NHS points out those who may not be suitable for the treatment. This includes:

  • Patient has a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or uterine cancer
  • Patient has a history of blood clots
  • Patients with untreated high blood pressure – your blood pressure will need to be controlled before you can start HRT
  • Patient with liver disease
  • Pregnant patients – it is still possible to get pregnant during HRT, so you should use birth control until two years after your last period if you are under 50 or for one year after age 50

In all cases, you should talk to your family doctor or menopausal specialist about whether HRT might work for you. There are a lot of options so there may be something that can be worked out.

How can you get started with HRT?

Call your surgery and ask to see another GP – ask for one with an interest in women’s health or menopause. Most practices involve at least one general practitioner with additional degrees or an interest in these areas.

You should keep a diary of your symptoms for a while so that you can take them to your doctor and clearly explain when they occurred and how this is affecting your life.

After discussing your symptoms, your doctor will explain the different types of hormone replacement therapy available to you.

If you meet the criteria of a possible patient for HRT, your GP will then start you on a low dose of the hormone.

Patients are often encouraged to try the treatment for three months to see if it works.

Usually, your progress will be monitored during follow-up appointments to check for any associated side effects.

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from another GP if you don’t feel heard.

Be wary, however, that you may go to doctors expecting to prescribe HRT, but be told that this medicine is not right for you based on your medical history or otherwise.

How much does it cost?

Unlike other hormone treatments like Pill, women have to pay for HRT.

Women in the UK pay £9.35 for every NHS prescription they need, or £18.70 if they need two hormones. It is usually offered on a short-term basis, which means the cost is payable monthly or every three months.

This leaves many women unable to pay, while those living in Scotland and Wales get free HRT.

But in October 2021, the Government backed a “menopause revolution” as ministers pledged to cut the cost of repeat HRT prescribing.

After Politicians and Celebrities Join The Sun’s Amazing Menopause Matters campaign, women on repeat prescriptions will only have to pay a fee of £18.50 a year – save up to £205.

Congressman Carolyn Harris, who introduced the original bill, cried when the pledge was made to help women grapple with the symptoms and costs of menopause.

The Government is in discussions with NHS England to put the measures into practice.

Meanwhile, health watchdogs are set to announce that for the first time HRT will be sold without a prescription.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is preparing to introduce a reclassification of HRTs so that women can buy them over the counter. The Daily telegram reported in February 2022.

Are there any negative side effects with hormone replacement therapy?

HRT got a bad rap. The fears mainly stem from a flawed study done in the US and published in 2002 that said HRT can cause breast cancer.

In an HRT mythical puzzle piece for The Sun, general practitioner Philippa Kaye said: “For the general population, there are potential risks with HRT but these risks are small and some can be mitigated by having HRT delivered .

“Overall, for women between the ages of 50 and 60, the benefits of starting HRT far outweigh the risks. For women between the ages of 60 and 70, the benefits and risks of starting HRT far outweigh the risks. head is relatively balanced, and for women over 70, the risks of initiating HRT tend to outweigh the potential benefits.

“HRT isn’t right for everyone if you have what’s called a ‘contraindication’.

“Every case is different, so talk to your GP.”

Research has shown that HRT may slightly increase the risk of serious diseases, including blood clots and breast cancer.

For example, combined HRT has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer from 23 cases per 1,000 to 27 cases per 1,000 – so the risk is very small.

These are things you discuss with your GP to weigh the risks and benefits for you.

Taking medication of any kind can cause side effects in the body – but these side effects usually settle down over a three-month period.

People who start using HRT may experience breast tenderness, headaches, nausea, indigestion, and vaginal bleeding.

It is important to see your GP if you are concerned about these side effects or if they continue over a three-month period.

What are the benefits?

On the other hand, HRT has great benefits besides giving women a better quality of life.

For example, a 2017 study stated that women using hormone replacement therapy tend to live longer, with treatment cutting the overall risk of death by 30%. This is supported by another study in 2021that showed that HRT reduced the risk of premature death by up to 9%.

With long-term use, HRT can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become thin and fragile.

Many women, including celebrities, have revealed how HRT has changed their lives.

As part of The Sun’s Amazing Menopause Issues campaign, Lisa Snowdon revealed how HRT stopped her from having a menopausal rampage and screaming at her man.

Presenters and models say this drug is a “gamechanger” after years of struggle.

Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton also revealed that Menopause makes her feel “suicidal”. But since feeling the impact of HRT, she says:

“HRT is blowing up right now. I can’t believe the suffering women out there aren’t armed with the facts about HRT and how beneficial it can be. “

BBC presenter Kirsty Wark said in February 2017 that she had endured a “difficult menopause” after quitting HRT due to cancer concerns.

Are there any alternative treatments other than HRT?

If menopausal symptoms bother you or occur before age 45, your GP can help you.

If Hormone Replacement Therapy doesn’t seem like the right choice for you, there are alternative treatments available.

In severe cases, your GP may recommend…

  • Vaginal creams or lubricants for vaginal dryness
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce anxiety
  • Tibolone is another drug that is similar to combination HRT, but it will only work for women whose last period was more than a year ago.
  • Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, although benefits are limited
  • Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes – including regular exercise, healthy eating, and cutting back on coffee, alcohol and smoking. What is hormone replacement therapy and how is HRT used to treat women going through menopause?

Fry Electronics Team

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