Hormone Replacement Therapy ~ Health Guide

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Hormone Replacement Therapy

Written by Mystic on Monday, August 04, 2008

Hormone replacement therapy [HRT] is the prescribed use of female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, for women around the time of menopause. As women approach menopause the amount of oestrogen produced by the ovaries gradually decreases. Over a period of time this is balanced out as other parts of the body start to produce oestrogen. In the period of readjustment however women may have symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and night sweats. For some women these symptoms can be quite severe.

Hormone replacement therapy can be used to relieve distressing symptoms such as hot flushes in the short term or over much longer periods to reduce the risk of bowel cancer and osteoporosis.

When HRT was prescribed in the past, oestrogen was given on its own to women to relieve their menopausal symptoms. However, studies have shown that this resulted in women being at increased risk of endometrial cancer [cancer of the lining of the womb].

Of course women who have had a hyterectomy are not at risk of endometrial cancer.

The addition of progesterone as part of HRT for 14 days in every month, gives protection from this increased risk of endometrial cancer but may increase the risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart attack and clotting disorders.

With the use of progesterone in this way the woman may have a 'period' every month - which is usually much lighter than a 'normal' period. After the menopause, the daily use of oestrogen and progesterone together, will result in the elimination of these periods after several months. Most post menopausal women prefer this "period free regimen".

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