Women's Health

Women's Health

Hormone therapy (HT)

Hormone therapy can relieve severe symptoms of menopause but does carry some health risks. Talk with your doctor to see if hormone therapy is right for you.

Hormone therapy includes:

  • Birth control pills to treat symptoms of perimenopause, prevent pregnancy, and manage heavy menstrual bleeding linked with perimenopause
  • Estrogen therapy (ET) for women who have had their uterus removed (hysterectomy)
  • Estrogen and progestin for women who have a uterus

When hormone therapy is used around or after menopause, it is called hormone replacement therapy.

Benefits of hormone therapy

  • Reduces symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep problems
  • Prevents thinning bones and fractures
  • Lowers the risk of colon cancer
  • Keeps the lining of the vagina moist and thick to reduce irritation
  • Helps prevent dental problems such as tooth loss and gum disease
  • Small decreased risk of breast cancer for women who do not have an uterus (and take estrogen only therapy)

Risks of hormone therapy

  • Vaginal bleeding, bloating, nausea, sore breasts, mood swings, and headaches
  • Small increased risk of heart disease, blood clots, and stroke
  • Small increased risk of breast cancer for women who have their uterus (and take estrogen and progestin therapy)

Your doctor may be able to change your HT or lower the dose if you’re having unpleasant side effects.

When not to take hormone therapy

  • During pregnancy
  • Have had breast cancer, endometrial cancer, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, or stroke
  • Have vaginal bleeding from an unknown cause
  • Have active liver disease

Some women have questions about bioidentical hormones.

Bioidentical hormone therapy vs. synthetic hormone therapy

You might hear about “bioidentical” hormone therapy as an alternative to synthetic hormone therapy for menopause symptom relief. Bioidentical hormones (such as estradiol, estriol and progesterone) have the same molecular …
Learn More About Bioidentical hormone therapy vs. synthetic hormone therapy >