Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the use of synthetic hormones to supplement or replace the body’s naturally-produced hormones. Hormones are chemicals produced by the body that have many different functions.
Some female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are important for reproduction. Male hormones, such as testosterone, are important for sexual development and function.
People who have an imbalance of female or male hormones may experience several symptoms. Female hormone imbalances may include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. For male hormone imbalances, symptoms may include erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, fatigue, and decreased muscle mass.
HRT can help to alleviate these symptoms by replacing the missing hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) usually involves treatment with one of the following medications: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. However, HRT can also cause a number of side effects.
The most common side effects associated with estrogen replacement are:
The most common side effects associated with testosterone replacement are:
The most common side effects associated with progesterone replacement are:
There are two types of HRT: systemic and local. Systemic HRT involves taking hormones by mouth, patch, gel, or injection, which allows them to circulate throughout the body. Local HRT involves using a cream, ring, or tablet that is inserted into the vagina or applied to the skin.
Progesterone can also be used with estrogen for women who still have their uterus. This can help decrease their risk of developing endometrial cancer. You may not need progesterone replacement if you’ve had a hysterectomy in the past.
Some prescription options include:
The decision to use HRT should be made after careful consideration of the risks and benefits. Common side effects of HRT include headache, nausea, breast tenderness, and weight gain. More serious side effects include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. Therefore, it is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of HRT with your doctor before starting treatment.
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