How Does HRT Work?

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

To help alleviate menopause symptoms, many medical professionals are turning to HRT

They come at a moment's notice, leaving you frustrated, at times embarrassed, and downright confused. For menopause sufferers, the annoying hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and night sweats can be a source of constant irritation. To help alleviate these symptoms, many medical professionals are turning to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help menopausal women combat these symptoms. Yet many women are left wondering: is HRT the key? How does HRT work? Read on to learn about the effects of HRT and how it helps combat menopause symptoms.

Who Should Take HRT?

As menopause nears, the body's production of estrogen and progesterone naturally decreases. This leads to hormonal imbalance, and for many women, hot flashes, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, fatigue, and memory loss. This drop in hormone levels also signals the end of the menstrual cycle.

Because of these changes, many physical and emotional symptoms may appear. Weight gain, depression, fatigue, and irritability due to disturbances in sleep lead to less interest in life's little pleasures. To combat these symptoms, some women turn to HRT. But who should take HRT?

What Is HRT?

Most women take a combination of progesterone and estrogen when using hormone replacement therapy

HRT is a therapy that uses synthetic estrogen to replace the natural estrogen in the body to help reduce hormonal imbalance. Most women take a combination of progesterone and estrogen when using hormone therapy. However, there are associated risks that are often cited with hormone therapy. Taking estrogen increases the risk of developing endometrial cancer, and progesterone is needed to offset this risk. This cancer typically occurs as a result of excessive or unbalanced estrogen. For women who have had a hysterectomy, the risk of endometrial cancer is eliminated.

Is HRT Right for Me?

Some forms of HRT copy the body's natural hormonal cycles; this type is often prescribed for women experiencing menopausal symptoms but still have periods. This treatment is known as cyclical HRT. For women who haven't had periods for a year or more, continuous HRT treatment is often given.


The risk of osteoporosis increases as bones weaken and lose their density during menopause; however, most often HRT is not prescribed due to increased risk of osteoporosis. Taking a combination HRT slightly increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Women considering HRT as a treatment path should consult their doctor about the associated risks and side effects in order to know if the therapy is appropriate for them. Click on the link below for more information about treatments for menopause using hormone therapy.