What is HRT?
HRT is medication given to replace the decreasing hormone levels and should result in relief of menopausal symptoms.
What are the risks/benefits of HRT?
- It is the most effective treatment to manage the symptoms of the menopause, helping to improve quality of life.
- It has also been shown to significantly improve bone density and protect against osteoporosis and related fractures.
- HRT given to women under the age of 60 or within 10 years of the menopause has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
- HRT may cause clots in the legs or lungs if misused – particularly in those who are overweight.
- Those aged over 60 have a slightly increased risk of stroke of heart disease.
- In some patients, there may be a slight increased risk of breast cancer.
What hormones are given?
- OESTROGEN – Oestrogen is the main hormone used to control the menopausal symptoms and can be given on its own if you have had a hysterectomy.
- PROGESTERONE – If you still have your uterus (womb) you also need to take a second hormone called progesterone to protect the lining of the womb from the oestrogen. This can be given so that you will still have a monthly bleed if you haven’t yet stopped your periods or in a way that won’t give a bleed if it has been more than 12 months since your last period.
- TESTOSTERONE – Testosterone isn’t used routinely. It can help with low libido but is not the first choice as low oestrogen levels are the cause. There are currently no licensed preparations for female use in the UK but can be prescribed by a specialist using gel preparations licensed for use in men.
Essential lifestyle changes to avoid symptoms of the Menopause:
- Regular exercise (avoid doing exercise late in the day)
- Weight loss
- Wearing light clothing
- Maintain a regular sleep pattern – sleep in cool rooms where possible
- Reducing stress
- Avoiding triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine, smoking, alcohol etc.
- Menopause UK (www.menopauseuk.org) – A network of groups and organisations which represent, and support women affected by menopause.
- Menopause Matters (www.menopausematters.co.uk) – Provides information on the menopause, menopausal symptoms, and treatment options.
- The Daisy Network (www.daisynetwork.org.uk) – A nationwide support group for women who have suffered a premature menopause.