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Hormone Replacement Therapy

Information about hormone replacement therapy and tablets for mid and post-menopause

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Dr Hilary Jones discusses HRT and the treatments available at HealthExpress

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a course of treatment that can help women going through the menopause by making symptoms such as hot flushes, sweats, headaches and mood changes so much more bearable. With oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels all affected, it's a relief to know that there are clinically proven treatments to lessen any discomfort. For more information on the many options available, which is the best for you and other techniques to help you through the menopause, please read this comprehensive guide.

If you are already on hormone replacement therapy and seek to buy your HRT treatment, you can do so below easily. Your prescription will then be sent to our pharmacy for free next day delivery. We also offer free same day delivery to London postcodes. Alternatively, you can read more about HRT below.

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What is HRT?

HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy and is mainly recommended to women who require relief from the symptoms of menopause, particularly for women who are experiencing early menopause in their mid 40s. It can also be used for osteoporosis prevention, women with perimenopause symptoms and women with surgical menopause.

Usually occurring in a woman's 50s, the menopause means that the female hormones adjust causing an egg to stop being produced every four weeks. The plus side is that you won't experience any more periods (and the cramping and pain associated with them) however, in their place, is a number of symptoms appear for an average of 4 years.

Despite popular belief, menopause isn't always a bad experience for all women - in fact, there are women that don't find the symptoms related to menopause bothersome at all - but for most, it can be very distressing. To alleviate this discomfort, HRT replaces the female hormones your body has lost to maintain a balance, allowing you to function without experiencing any emotional or physical changes.

How does HRT work?

The main purpose of HRT is to help replenish oestrogen levels, although some hormone replacement therapy may also contain progesterone, which can help endometrial health.

Oestrogen and Progesterone in HRT

Oestrogen is responsible for maintaining many functions in the female body. It is also responsible for many secondary female characteristics. When oestrogen levels start fall, it can cause a woman to experience a number of symptoms mentioned above.

HRT treatment is intended to reduce the severity of many of these symptoms and to prevent osteoporosis. A drop in hormones can also lead to a drop in bone mass, which can make women more vulnerable to conditions such as osteoporosis. All HRT medications contain oestrogen, or ingredients that act in a similar way once inside the body.

Whilst the lack of progesterone doesn't cause the majority of menopause symptoms, it is very important for womb health and it has been proven that a drop in the hormone can increase a woman's risk of developing endometrial cancer. This is why artificial progesterone, also known as progestogen, may be recommended as part of HRT treatment or form part of the ingredient in the medication used.[1]

Risks of HRT

Just like any treatment, HRT medicines have their risks, however medication involving the endocrine system are always monitored more carefully because they can influence a number of functions in your body. HRT is prescribed with some amount of care because of the fact that it replaces the function of oestrogen, an incredibly important hormone in the female body, especially at an age where older women are naturally more vulnerable to certain conditions such as stroke or coronary heart disease.

With short-term use of up to 10 years, it is proven to have little affect and whilst there are risks, you will never be prescribed HRT if it is not suitable for you. To make sure that you are safe while using HRT, your doctor will require you to come in for routine checks during your treatment and will prescribe the lowest dose required for the least amount of time, however this can still be as long as 10 years without having a negative impact.

Long term HRT can increase the risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and thromboembolism, which is why you'd normally not be prescribed HRT if you have a history of blood clotting conditions or oestrogen-sensitive cancer. To reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, it's standard to prescribe progesterone alongside oestrogen replacement treatments.[2]

Symptoms of the menopause

All women will experience the menopause; however not all with have the usual symptoms that accompany it, or experience all of them on the list. The majority of women will have a few signs, and these usually start a couple of months in advance, otherwise known as the perimenopause. These will then continue for up to four years on average, however the NHS have stated that 1 in 10 women will have menopausal symptoms for up to 12 years.

  • Change to your period
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Vaginal itching/dryness
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Loss of bone density
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Painful joints
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

In terms of a change to your periods, this could be lighter or heavier flows, a difference in frequency or any change in what is usually a normal pattern. Eventually, you all find that your periods will stop altogether.

  • symptoms Change to your period
  • symptoms Hot flushes
  • symptoms Night sweats
  • symptoms Loss of sex drive
  • symptoms Vaginal itching/dryness
  • symptoms Discomfort during sex
  • symptoms
  • symptoms Mood swings
  • symptoms Painful joints
  • symptoms Heart palpitations

Benefits of treating the menopause

  • Relief from menopausal symptoms

    reduced effect of hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and itching associated with menopausal oestrogen deficiency.

  • Can treat osteoporosis prophylaxis

    as oestrogen levels are kept at a higher level, thereby avoiding significant loss of bone density.

Benefits of treatment mid or post-menopause

There are various benefits that follow managing and treating the symptoms of menopause effectively especially using hormone replacement therapy. This includes relief from symptoms associated with menopausal oestrogen deficiency, such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and itching, reduced sex drive and incontinence. It's also used in osteoporosis prophylaxis, because it keeps oestrogen levels high, thereby avoiding significant loss of bone density.

Decreasing this whole range of symptoms can considerably alter your quality of life, making the menopause an easy process.

Menopause management methods

Treating the menopause will depend on the symptoms you are looking to treat. For example, some women may find the worse symptom by far is vaginal dryness, in which case lubrication provides relief, whilst others find that HRT treatment the most effective as it targets a wide array of discomfort. Whatever your scenario, you will find the best treatment to make the menopause pass with ease.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

There are a number of different types of treatments used for HRT that all aim to improve oestrogen levels. Some contain conjugated oestrogens, tibolone or estradiol only, while others have some conjugated oestrogen and estradiol combined with artificial progesterone (known as oestrogen-only HRT and combined HRT respectively). Some of the most widely prescribed HRT medications available include Evorel, Elleste, Livial and Premarin.

There are a number of choices available and a consultation will recommend a treatment based on their patient's individual needs. For example, if you are experiencing perimenopause, or you are still menstruating, your doctor isn't likely to recommend treatments containing tibolone, which is a anabolic steroid treatment that has the same effects on the body as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen.

Women who have had their uterus removed, will normally only require a treatment containing conjugated oestrogens or estradiol, while women who are still menstruating or have not had a hysterectomy may be recommended these treatments in combination with progesterone.

HRT can treat a number of symptoms effectively including hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, vaginal bleeding and breast tenderness.

Lifestyle changes

Some alterations can be made to your day-to-day life that can make a huge difference to your standard of living, especially during the start when you're getting used to the modifications.

For night sweats and hot flushes

  • Wearing light cotton clothing
  • Keeping the temperature cool and rooms aired out
  • Taking a cool shower
  • Having a cool drink or sucking some ice
  • Using a fan
  • Avoiding spicy foods
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine

For a low libido

  • Lubrication
  • Additional foreplay
  • Counselling
  • Relationship openness

Vaginal dryness

  • Vaginal moisturisers
  • Lubricants

Mood changes

  • Regularly exercising
  • Meditation
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Counselling
  • Family and friend support

Weak bones (osteoporosis)

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Vitamin supplements

All of these self-help tips can be used in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

How long does it take for HRT to work?

How long you'll need to use HRT medications for will depend on your condition and your doctor. If you are at low risk of complications, you may be able to use some medicines for up to ten years, although generally HRT will be stopped as soon as possible.

HRT availability

HRT can come as a cream, patch, tablet or implant. Creams are often applied directly to the vagina, whereas tablets can be taken orally or inserted into the vagina, depending on the treatment. Patches simply need to be applied to the skin and replaced when required, whereas oestrogen implants are a more long-term method that releases oestrogen into bloodstream via a pellet under the skin.

What HRT options are available?

HRT treatments are available online from HealthExpress to patients who are already using these medications. Complete our consultation and our doctor will assess your suitability to use these treatments and notify you when you can complete your order. The only payment is for the medication. Consultation, prescription, dispatch and delivery is all-inclusive.

  • Order today. Get it tomorrow
  • UK registered medication
  • No doctor's appointment necessary
  • Most popular HRT options are available

Sources

Dr Hilary Jones, HealthExpress Medical Advisor

Hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy can be very helpful to women who are experiencing particularly uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause.

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