What Are the Benefits of HRT?

HRT is the most effective medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for relieving hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Hormone replacement therapy may also reduce your chances of getting thin, weak bones (osteoporosis) that break easily.

What Are the Risks of HRT?

For some women, hormone replacement therapy may increase their chances of getting blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. For a woman who still has her uterus, estrogen increases her chance of getting endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining). Adding progestin to the HRT lowers this risk.

Common Questions Regarding HRT

Common questions and answers related to HRT include the following:
  • Should I use estrogen just to prevent thin bones?
You can, but there are other medicines and things you can do to help your bones.
  •  Should I use HRT to protect the heart or prevent strokes?
No, do not use hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart attacks or strokes.
  •  Should I use HRT to prevent memory loss or Alzheimer's disease?
No, do not use hormone replacement therapy to prevent memory loss or Alzheimer's disease.
  •  Do hormones protect against aging and wrinkles or increase my sex drive?
Studies have not shown that HRT prevents aging and wrinkles or increases sex drive.
  •  How long should I use HRT for menopause?
You should talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist for specific advice. These hormones should be used at the lowest dose that helps and for the shortest time necessary. (For example, every three to six months, it's a good idea to check if you still need HRT.)
  •  Does it make a difference what form of hormones I use for menopause?
The risks and benefits may be the same for all HRT products for menopause, such as pills, patches, vaginal creams, gels, and rings.
  • Are herbs and other "natural" hormone replacement therapy products useful in treating symptoms of menopause?
At this time, we do not know if herbs or other "natural" HRT products are helpful or safe. Studies are being done to learn about the potential benefits and risks of these alternative treatments.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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