Estrogens and progesterone are hormones that have a protective effect on bone density. As women enter menopause, their bodies stop producing these hormones, raising the risk that they will develop osteoporosis. In some women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may provide an effective way to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
HRT may not be considered safe for older menopausal women with higher risks for cardiovascular problems and certain types of cancer.
What does it involve?
HRT may include estrogens alone, or combine estrogens with progesterone. (Hormone replacement with estrogens alone may be referred to as estrogen replacement therapy, or ERT.) Women who have not undergone hysterectomy, or in other words, still have their uterus, may be more likely to be prescribed a combination including progesterone to help protect against uterine cancer.
HRT can be administered in many different ways. The most common ways to receive HRT are via oral medication, topical creams, vaginal ring, or a transdermal patch applied to the skin.
Most studies agree that HRT can reduce the risk of bone fractures due to fragility by 20 to 35 percent.
HRT is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and night sweats.
HRT has been found to reduce the risk for developing cancers of the colon or endometrium (lining of the uterus).
Common side effects of HRT can include breast swelling and tenderness, vaginal bleeding, rapid weight gain, and swelling of the feet and legs.
HRT can raise the risk for cardiovascular events such as stroke, blood clots, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). HRT can also increase the risk for developing cancers of the breast and ovaries in some women. There is limited evidence that HRT may negatively impact global cognitive functioning.
HRT is often recommended for a limited time period due to the risk for developing serious health problems.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - International Osteoporosis Foundation
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis - eMedicineHealth
Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer Risk - American Cancer Society