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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the name for a number of hormone therapies that can be used to treat the symptoms of menopause, especially hot flushes and night sweats. There are certain benefits and risks with HRT, so it is important to talk to your doctor if you are considering it.

What is hormone replacement therapy?

The main types of HRT are based on hormones, such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, that occur naturally in your body.

During menopause, your hormone levels go up and down, resulting in symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats.

HRT helps restore your hormone levels, which may improve some menopause symptoms.

How is it used?

HRT can be taken as:

  • oral tablets
  • gels or patches that are absorbed through your skin
  • creams and tablets that are placed in your vagina
  • an intrauterine device (IUD).

What are the benefits of HRT?

HRT is usually helpful if you experience problems with hot flushes and night sweats. Mood, sleep and sex drive problems may also improve. Some women also say they find improvements in joint aches, vaginal dryness and incontinence.

What are the risks of HRT?

The main risk is that some types of HRT lead to a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer or thrombosis (blood clots in the legs or lungs). However, it can prevent other conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, fractures, diabetes and some types of cancers. Current international recommendations say that the benefits outweigh the risks in women who are having significant symptoms from menopause and that HRT is effective and safe for most healthy women.

Some women have side-effects such as nausea, fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness and swelling, and irregular bleeding. These often go away with time.

HRT may not be suitable for you if you have or have had:

The risks of HRT depend on your age, the type of hormone therapy you take, duration of treatment, and your medical history.

Talk to your doctor to find out which risks apply to you. If you are unable to take HRT, your doctor may suggest other medications that may be helpful.

How to reduce the risks associated with HRT

You can minimise the risks associated with HRT by:

  • taking it for less than five years and at the lowest effective dose review the dose regularly with your doctor and stop as soon as you don’t need it any more
  • exercise regularly, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and keeping to a healthy weight
  • taking good care of your high blood pressure and diabetes, if you have them.

If you are interested in taking HRT, please talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you.

Last reviewed: June 2017

Need more information?

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Found 96 results

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and risk of breast cancer | Cancer Australia

This position statement applies only to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and breast cancer risk in women it does not address other risks or benefits to women from HRT usage.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Hormone replacement therapy - myDr.com.au

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not a quick fix to the challenge of menopause, but it can be a useful tool in the overall management of menopause.

Read more on myDr website

Sandrena | myVMC

Sandrena is a oestradiol-containing gel used as hormone replacement therapy to prevent vasomotor and mood symptoms of menopause.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Climara | myVMC

Climara is a form of hormone replacement therapy used in menopause. It delivers a synthetic form of oestrogen, oestradiol, via a skin patch.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Estrofem | myVMC

Femoston is a combination hormone replacement therapy containing dydrogesterone (progesterone) and oestradiol (oestrogen) used to treat menopausal symptoms.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Hormone Replacement Therapy - A Summary of the Evidence for General Practitioners and Other Health Professions | National Health and Medical Research Council

Read more on NHMRC – National Health and Medical Research Council website

Kliogest | myVMC

Kliogest is a short term hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. It contains norethisterone (progesterone) and oestradiol (oestrogen).

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Premia | myVMC

Premia is a hormone replacement therapy used to reduce vasomotor symptoms of menopause including night sweats and hot flashes.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Vagifem Low Pessaries - myDr.com.au

Vagifem Low Pessaries - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Kliogest Tablets - myDr.com.au

Kliogest Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

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