Hormone Therapy (Estrogen Therapy, Estrogen/Progestin Therapy)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Who should take hormone therapy (HT)?

  • Women with hot flashes , especially when they are causing sleep disturbance, can consider hormone therapy (HT). Estrogen given short-term is the most effective treatment for hot flashes, and benefit of short-term (less than 5 years) use outweighs potential risks for most women.
  • Because the risks outweigh the benefits of long-term hormone therapy (HT) for most women, women who are at risk of, or who have been diagnosed with, osteoporosis should talk to their doctors about non-estrogen medications such as alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), raloxifene (Evista), teriparatide (Forteo), and calcitonin (Miacalcin) in preventing and treating osteoporosis.
  • Women with vaginal dryness or itching due to menopause can consider HT. Oral pills, skin patches, gel, or vaginal forms of estrogen can be used. Women who only have vaginal menopause symptoms and are not experiencing hot flashes should pick a vaginal form of estrogen, whereas women with both hot flashes and vaginal symptoms can use any form of ET. Sometimes, if a woman has both hot flashes and vaginal symptoms, both oral and vaginal forms of ET will be prescribed together, especially if vaginal symptoms do not improve with oral ET alone.
  • It is recommended that women who do choose to take hormone therapy should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest time period possible.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/20/2015

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