Prescription Hormone Therapy

The hormones in prescription hormone therapies help supplement your body’s own hormones. Women with a uterus who take estrogens need to take another medication in combination. The other medication protects the uterine lining from the thickening that may result from using only estrogen, which can lead to cancer of the uterus. Women without a uterus can take a medication that contains only estrogens.

Hormone therapy should be used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration consistent with a woman’s treatment goals and her individual risks. No two women are the same. Individual factors that need to be considered in each case include the woman’s health and quality-of-life priorities as well as her personal risk factors, such as her risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Hormone therapy is available in a variety of formulations and treatment options. You and your healthcare professional should discuss whether prescription hormone therapy is right for you. 

Prescription Hormone Therapy

  • May reduce moderate to severe hot flashes due to menopause
  • Available in a range of dosage strengths so the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration can be determined
  • Available in different formulations including pill, gel, and transdermal patches

Potential Risks

  • Medications that contain estrogens may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, as well as breast and endometrial cancer
  • Common side effects may include headache, irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting (in women with a uterus), breast pain, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, and hair loss
  • Less common but serious side effects include: breast cancer, uterine cancer (in women with a uterus), stroke, heart attack, blood clots, dementia, gallbladder disease, and ovarian cancer
  • Women should not take estrogens if they:
    • — Think they are pregnant
    • — Have unusual vaginal bleeding
    • — Have or have had certain cancers
    • — Have had a stroke or heart attack in the past year
    • — Have or have had blood clots
    • — Have liver problems or liver disease 

 

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