Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not only reserved for those women who are approaching menopause. It is also a viable option for postmenopausal women, often for different reasons.
Continue reading to learn all about postmenopausal hormone therapy, including its benefits, side effects, risks, and much more to have a better understanding of your aging hormonal health.
About HRT after Menopause
Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy is a treatment used to help women relieve symptoms provoked with the end of ovarian hormone production.
Postmenopausal hormone treatment is usually prescribed as estrogen-only or a combination of estrogen and progesterone. To this day, doctors are hesitant to prescribe women androgens, such as testosterone.
There are various factors that may play a role in which treatment regimen women will undergo, including, but not limited to, medical history, diagnostic test results, symptoms experienced, and personal preferences.
Types of postmenopausal hormone therapy include oral administrations of pills or tablets; vaginal insertions, including suppositories or creams; as well as subcutaneous options, such as patches and gels; among others.
HRT after menopause is not recommended for those who started perimenopause after the age of 45 and are not suffering from symptoms. It is also not for those who have a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer; blood clots; strokes; liver disease; or unexplained vaginal bleeding.
Benefits of Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy
Among the various hormonal imbalance symptoms that can be alleviated with hormone replacement after menopause are:
Hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women can also help prevent the onset of more serious conditions that can develop later on in life, like bone loss and fractures characteristic of osteoporosis.
Furthermore, doctors recommend women take hormone replacement therapy after menopause short-term with regular follow-up care as scientific evidence is continually warning of its extended use.
Side Effects of Postmenopausal Hormone Treatment
Aside from aforementioned risks, it is estimated that 10 percent of women who undergo hormone therapy will experience side effects, which could include:1
Side effects should be reported to an overseeing doctor as soon as possible. Dosages may be reduced, or a different treatment type may be pursued depending upon their severity, among other options.
Risks of Hormone Therapy after Menopause
Taking postmenopause HRT can increase the risk of developing:
- Endometrial, breast, or ovarian cancer
- Heart disease and attacks
- Inflammatory markers
- Blood clots
For women who have not undergone a hysterectomy, estrogen-only HRT should not be pursued to prevent the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Moreover, a recent study found that using HRT for one year increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. There is a higher risk when used for a longer period of time, and it remains for more than a decade after stopping HRT.2
While aforementioned side effects and risks of postmenopausal hormone therapy will depend upon the type of therapy implemented, dosing, and length of treatment, women interested in HRT after menopause should consult their doctors to properly weigh out the risks and benefits. Or, they can choose to pursue non-invasive, natural, and effective postmenopause treatments for symptom relief and overall health well into their twilight years.
- Mayo Clinic. (2018). Hormone therapy: Is it right for you? Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/in-depth/hormone-therapy/art-20046372
- The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). The Experts Do Agree About Hormone Therapy. Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/the-experts-do-agree-about-hormone-therapy
- Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Estrogen & Hormones. Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16979-estrogen--hormones
- Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. (2019). Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence. Lancet, 2019. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31709-X