IntroductionHormone replacement therapy, as the name itself suggests, consists of medical treatment that replaces diminishing hormones in the body whether given to men or women. The levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone decrease over the years causing many discomforts. For this reason, mostly women in the menopause and after that period are the ones who receive hormone replacement therapy. Nowadays, there are a lot of young women and even girls with hormone imbalances and have to use medications to boost the hormones. Numerous risks and side-effects have been reported over the years of HRT usage. The studies are yet to be performed on the true and accurate risks and health benefits of hormone replacement therapy as compared to the other types of therapies that regulate hormone levels.
Hormone replacement therapy is believed to have negative effects on the health of woman's breasts. If progestin is combined with estrogen in the treatment (as in the medicine Prempro), it influences on the breast tissue density which can indicate the risk for cancer. The therapy may cause dense breast which makes it hard for the mammograms to read the findings. Women with dense breasts are at higher risks of developing a cancer. Continuous use of such HRT for more than 4 years may be conducive to the breast cancers. Estrogen alone does not have such higher risk. On the other hand, if estrogen is used without progesterone or progestin, there is the risk of endometrial cancer, i.e. the cancer of the lining of the uterus. HRT may to some extent affect the development of the cancer of the ovaries.Estrogen taken orally can make blood clots and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The women who used oral estrogen and progestin are reported to have more risks of being struck with the heart attack. These results of the studies do not refer to the transdermal estrogen, the one delivered through the skin. Oral estrogen as in Premarin may also cause the problems of the gallbladder.
Apart from the higher risks of getting certain disease, hormone replacement therapy has a number of side-effects. Women report vaginal bleeding in the treatment including estrogen on a daily usage and progesteron only a few times in a month, but, also if both of these hormones are taken daily. Doctors then adjust the dosage or type of medicine. It is common for women on HRT to feel pains in the breast and slightly nauseous. Gradual increase of the hormone levels can lead to mood changes and irritability. Fluid retention is also one unpleasant side-effect. Instead of taking pills, women can use transdermal hormones and some bio-identical hormones to ease the side effects. Women with some heart diseases or blood clots, breast or uterus cancer and liver condition should not use hormone replacement therapy.