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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Side Effects and Warnings

Written by Olivia Cerf.

The following side effects may disappear over time as your body adjusts to taking HRT. Also, your doctor may be able to change the amount of hormone you receive, the way it is taken, or the timing of the dose, in order to help minimize these effects:

  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Return of monthly periods
  • Swelling of feet and lower legs
  • Rapid weight gain

HRT can also cause some very serious side effects. You should discuss your specific health status and risks with your doctor when deciding whether or not to use HRT.

Research findings support the general recommendation not to initiate hormone replacement therapy in women who do not have serious symptoms of menopause. The exception to this is the possible preventive effect against osteoporosis. If HRT is started and then stopped, symptoms that did not exist before may appear.

Long-term use of HRT may significantly increase women's risks of breast cancer, strokes, heart attack, and blood clots. ERT may also increase the risk of ovarian cancer. HRT has been associated with an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

For many women the risks of HRT—especially when used long-term—may outweigh the benefits, so the decision to use HRT should be carefully considered and discussed with your healthcare provider.

Women with the following conditions are usually advised not to use HRT:

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)
  • History of blood clots in the veins
  • History of breast or ovarian cancer
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • History of stroke
  • Many other conditions
    • Ask your doctor if any of your medical conditions increase the risks of taking HRT


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