Medical Definition of Therapy, hormone replacement (HRT)

  • 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.

Reviewed on 12/31/2018

Therapy, hormone replacement (HRT): The combination therapy of estrogen plus a progestogen. Formerly, known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and now known as hormone therapy (HT). Estrogen therapy (ET) is used to treat the symptoms of  menopause. It reduces or stops the short-term changes of menopause such as hot flashes, disturbed  sleep, and vaginal dryness. Estrogen therapy can prevent osteoporosis, a consequence of lowered estrogen levels. Vaginal estrogen therapy products help with vaginal dryness, more severe vaginal changes, and bladder effects but, since very little vaginal estrogen enters the circulation, it may not help with hot flashes or prevent osteoporosis.  The use of unopposed estrogen therapy (ET alone) is associated with an increase in the risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). However, by taking the hormone progestogen along with estrogen, the risk of endometrial cancer is reduced substantially. Progestogen protects the uterus by keeping the lining of the wall of the uterus (endometrium) from thickening (an effect caused by estrogen). Hormone therapy may be associated with certain health risks. Specifically, postmenopausal women taking combination estrogen-progestin have a small but definite increased risk for developing heart diseasebreast cancerstroke, and blood clots when compared with women not taking hormone therapy. The risks for women taking estrogen therapy alone without progesterone include an increased risk for stroke and blood clots. While long-term hormone therapy is no longer recommended, hormone therapy may still play a role in the treatment of severe menopausal symptoms, particularly in younger women. The healthcare provider can help to weigh the risks and benefits of estrogen therapy or hormone therapy on a case-by-case basis.

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QUESTION

If menopause occurs in a woman younger than ___ years, it is considered to be premature. See Answer

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Reviewed on 12/31/2018