For years, women seeking relief from their menopause symptoms have looked to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Conflicting studies have hailed HRT as both a miraculous and controversial therapy. It may be an easy way to combat hormonal imbalance, but is it safe for women considering getting pregnant? Continue reading to find out about HRT and its affect on fertility.
What Is HRT Used for?
Used in both men and women, HRT is an anti-aging health procedure that restores estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones to alleviate hormonal imbalance. In women, HRT is often used to treat the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and, in some cases, to prevent osteoporosis. It is also used to increase libido, improve muscle tone, manage weight and decrease andropause, which is more commonly known as male menopause. Available in a variety of forms such as creams and pellets, HRT is regularly taken in pill form, of which there are two main types:
- Estrogen without progestin
- Combination of estrogen and progestin
Progestin is added to the therapy to prevent uterine cancer in women who have not had a hysterectomy. If taken without progestin, estrogen may increase the risk of endometrial cancer. During menstruation, the endometrial cells are shed. After the onset of menopause, when endometrial cells no longer shed, estrogen can cause cells to proliferate in the uterus, leading to cancer.
Can HRT Affect Fertility?
HRT does not suppress ovulation. For women who have not had an hysterectomy, doctors advise the use of contraception for one year after the last menstrual period in women older than 50 and two years after the last menstrual period for women under the age of 50.
Benefits and Risks of HRT
Based on individual healthcare needs, it is recommended to consult your doctor or health professional if you're considering taking HRT.
Health benefits of taking HRT include:
- Helping to eliminate or reduce hot flashes
- Reduced night sweats and insomnia
- Enhanced libido
- Prevents vaginal dryness and thinning
- Bone growth
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Improvements in skin elasticity
- Increased weight loss
- Elevated mood
- Improved memory and concentration
Health risks of taking HRT include:
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased risk of endometrial cancer
- Increased risk of breast cancer
With a myriad of benefits there are always associated risks and taking HRT, like any prescription medication, should be re-evaluated annually. Click here to read more information about the different alternatives to HRT.