Hormone Therapy (HT)

Hormone therapy (HT) is medicine to treat symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems. It replaces the hormones that drop at menopause. Most women get relief from these symptoms within weeks of starting HT.

Most women take HT that contains two female hormones, estrogen and progestin. HT may come in the form of a pill, patch, gel, spray, or vaginal ring. A vaginal cream, a vaginal tablet, or a vaginal ring that has a much lower dose of estrogen may be used to relieve dryness and other tissue changes in and around the vagina.

HT has some risks. For a small number of women, it may increase the chances of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke. Be sure to have regular checkups with your doctor when taking HT.

Talk with your doctor about whether HT is right for you.

Why take hormone therapy?

Why might you take menopausal hormone therapy (HT)?

  • HT reduces symptoms of menopause. These include hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep problems.
  • HT helps to build up the lining of the vagina and improve lubrication. This can reduce irritation.
  • The estrogen in HT helps to prevent thinning bones.

What are the risks of taking menopausal hormone therapy (HT)?

What are some cautions about menopausal hormone therapy (HT)?

  • Sometimes HT may cause vaginal bleeding, bloating, nausea, sore breasts, mood swings, and headaches. Talk to your doctor about changing the type of HT you take or lowering the dose. This may help to end these side effects.
  • Taking HT may slightly increase your risk for heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke.
  • You should not take HT if you:
    • Could be pregnant.
    • Have a personal history of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, or stroke.
    • Have vaginal bleeding from an unknown cause.
    • Have active liver disease.
  • Most people with a personal history of breast cancer or endometrial cancer should not take HT. But it may be an option for some. Ask your doctor.