Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a medical treatment used to replace hormones that are no longer produced in the body. It is commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, as well as to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. HRT for Women is a specific type of HRT that is tailored to the needs of women. However, there are potential long-term effects associated with HRT that should be considered before starting treatment.
Long-term effects of HRT may include bone loss, an increased risk of fractures, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of women who take HRT experience side effects such as breast tenderness, fluid retention, and mood changes. In most cases, these side effects are mild and do not require the woman to stop taking HRT. However, recent evidence suggests that the risks associated with HRT are small and the benefits generally outweigh them. When taken with estrogen alone, there is little or no change in the risk of breast cancer.
Combined HRT may be associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, it is important for women taking HRT to attend all breast cancer screening appointments. Studies have shown that when started before age 60, HRT does not significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) and may even reduce the risk. Feminizing hormone therapy can limit fertility.
If possible, it is best to make decisions about fertility before starting treatment. The risk of permanent infertility increases with long-term use of hormones, especially for those who start hormone therapy before puberty begins. Even after stopping hormone therapy, the testicles may not recover enough to guarantee conception without treatment for infertility. The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is a large-scale clinical trial that studies the effects of HRT, dietary changes, and calcium and vitamin D supplements on heart disease, osteoporosis fractures, and the risk of breast and colorectal cancer. The WHI includes more than 160,000 women and is the world's largest clinical trial on health interventions for middle-aged women. Research has shown that feminizing hormone therapy can be safe and effective when administered by a healthcare provider with experience caring for transgender people.
A review of major trials published last week concluded that the overall increase in the risk of serious adverse effects such as breast cancer, stroke, and pulmonary embolism with long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) outweighs the possible benefits in preventing these diseases. While women who take birth control pills also take estrogen and progestin, the effect is not the same.