Hormone therapy (HT) is sometimes called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It involves taking synthetic (man-made) hormones, or hormones from animal sources, to supplement the levels of hormones that are naturally produced in a woman’s body. The goal of hormone therapy is to relieve menopausal symptoms. The most common symptoms treated with HT are hot flashes and vaginal dryness. HT can also help treat other menopausal symptoms, such as mood swings, sleep problems, and urinary incontinence. In some cases, HT may help prevent osteoporosis.
HT comes in many forms, including pills, patches, gels, vaginal creams, and injections. The type of HT you use depends on your symptoms and your preferences. You and your doctor will work together to choose the best form of HT for you.
HT can have risks and side effects. The most common side effects are vaginal bleeding, weight gain, headache, and breast tenderness. More serious side effects include blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. These risks increase with age and the longer you take HT. Before starting HT, be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.