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Hormone Therapy For Women

Hormone therapy (HT) increases your levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This will help reduce symptoms of menopause. HT may also help prevent osteoporosis in some women. But HT may increase risk for certain conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

Woman sitting on exam table talking to doctor.How to Take Hormones

To get the best results, always take your hormones exactly as directed. Hormones can be taken in any of these ways:

  • Pills containing estrogen, and sometimes other hormones, are taken as often as every day. This is the most common form of hormone therapy.

  • A skin patch releases estrogen into the bloodstream. There is also a patch that contains estrogen and progesterone. The patch can be worn on your hip. Most patches are changed once or twice a week.

  • Cream used inside the vagina releases estrogen locally. Only a very small amount gets into the bloodstream. For this reason, vaginal creams can treat vaginal atrophy and dryness, but are not used to treat hot flashes. The creams do not significantly increase your risk for heart attack or stroke. The creams are usually used 2 to 3 times per week, but may be used daily. One type of vaginal ring (the Femring) does release enough estrogen that it gets into the bloodstream.

Follow-up Visits

Have regular visits with a health care provider. These visits are a way to fine-tune your therapy. You can also be checked for any problems that might require you to stop HT.

Call Your Health care Provider

If you have any of the following symptoms, call your health care provider:

  • Unexpected, long-lasting, or heavy bleeding

  • A breast lump, or breast tenderness that doesn’t go away

  • Unexpected vaginal discharge

  • Severe headaches

  • Aching muscles in your back or legs

  • Sudden pain in your legs or chest

  • Shortness of breath

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 10/10/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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