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

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

Hormone replacement therapy can be either estrogen alone (called estrogen replacement therapy, or ERT), or estrogen and progesterone combined. This combination is referred to as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. While once widely used, HRT now has a more limited role in its use for treatment of menopausal symptoms because of concerns about its safety.

Hormone replacement therapy can also be used to treat other disorders involving hormones, and can include supplementing testosterone. It can be used to treat hypothyroidism, as well as hormone-related cancers such as prostate and breast cancer.

HRT is also used by transgender people to transition to the gender...

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...