Hormone replacement therapy is sometimes called estrogen replacement therapy or ERT. This therapy refers to a woman taking supplements of hormones like estrogen or estrogen with another hormone called progesterone. Hormone replacement therapy replaces hormones a woman’s body should make or used to make.

Why might hormone replacement therapy be necessary?

• Estrogen and progesterone regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and reproductive health.
• Estrogen is important for bone health.

In general, which groups of women would a health care provider prescribe hormone replacement therapy?

• Women going through menopause and who had already gone through it (post-menopausal women). The drop in hormones can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and sleep disturbances. Hormone replacement therapy replaces the hormones that their bodies should be making.
• Women with premature ovarian failure

The NIH Women’s Health Initiative Trial Results

Hormone replacement therapy for healthy menopausal and post-menopausal women includes increased risk of:

• breast cancer
• coronary heart disease
• stroke
• blood clots

In view of these findings of NIH researchers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that hormone replacement therapy does lessen some menopause symptoms in healthy post-menopausal women; however, the therapy carried serious risks. The FDA recommends low doses for the shortest amount of time to reach treatment goals.

For women whose bodies have stopped making estrogen or don’t make enough estrogen, hormone replacement therapy can reduce symptoms and maintain overall health.

The risk for pre-menopausal women with certain health conditions include:

• The risks associated with post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy do not apply to pre-menopausal women.

The benefits for pre-menopausal women with certain health conditions include:

• Low estrogen levels in women with premature ovarian failure put these women at risk for osteoporosis and heart disease. Hormone replacement therapy helps maintain bone health and reduces the risk of heart disease.

For more information:

You can receive a free 24-page booklet (part of the NICHD’s research portfolio in women’s health) entitled: “Do I have Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)?” This booklet is available in PDF form online at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development web site or you can write for it in print:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS (2003)
Do I have Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)? (03-5159)
Government Printing Office
Washington, DC

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional

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