Hormone Therapy - HRT, HT, ET, EPT, What Does it All Mean?


Medical Author: Carolyn J. Crandall, MD, MS, FACP
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

To help sort out the confusion about the multiple hormone therapy abbreviations, Dr. Carolyn Crandall has provided us this explanation of HRT, HT, ET (Estrogen Therapy) and ERT (Estrogen Replacement Therapy).

Menopausal Hormone Therapy (HT)

HRT stands for "hormone replacement therapy." In the medical field, HRT, or hormone replacement therapy is an older term, and has recently been replaced with "menopausal hormone therapy (HT).

Menopausal hormone therapy," abbreviated HT, is a general term for any type of hormone that a woman takes -- which could mean almost anything -- any combination of estrogen with progestin, estrogen alone, or progestin alone. If you want to describe a more specific type of hormone therapy, you can use the terms estrogen therapy (ET) or estrogen progestin therapy (EPT) as described below.

Estrogen Therapy (ET)

ERT stands for "estrogen replacement therapy." Again, because of the recent shift in medical terminology, ERT has been replaced by a newer term. Now, estrogen therapy, abbreviated ET, is the term we use to refer to estrogen as a therapy, WITHOUT progesterone. This new term, estrogen therapy, has been chosen in part because we are not really REPLACING estrogen when we prescribe estrogen therapy. After menopause, women are not really "naturally" meant to produce estrogen any more. Therefore, ET is a more precise (or possibly less offensive) way to describe the medication.

Estrogen Progestin Therapy (EPT)

Finally, a third term has come about to specifically describe a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy. This is called EPT, for estrogen progestin therapy. EPT is different from ET because EPT refers to a combination therapy of estrogen and progestin, whereas ET refers to estrogen alone. Any literature that uses these terms (HT, ET, or EPT) should explain the abbreviation and its related context. Another option would be to note the comparison in the actual text of the material (for example: "HT, as opposed to ET, did not increase the risk of X condition....").

I hope this has cleared up some of the confusion among the terms menopausal hormone therapy (HT), estrogen therapy (ET), and estrogen progestin therapy (EPT)!

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