The Facts About Hormone Replacement

Do you know what HRT is all about? If you are a woman in her 40’s you probably have heard a few rumors or snippets here and there, maybe even read an article or two if you are inquisitive. But do you know the real details about hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause? Here are a few that may give you a wake-up call.


For many years, physicians routinely prescribed hormone replacement therapy to ease the symptoms of menopause. These medications contain high levels of female hormones (normally estrogen and progestin) which are used to replace the ones the body has begun to stop making in sufficient quantities. It was widely believed that increasing the estrogen levels at the first sign of menopause symptoms would protect against heart disease and osteoporosis, while improving the quality of life for women at the same time. Of course after several decades of this standard practice, certain studies indicated that side effects of overuse of these medications include cancer and other diseases.


The largest study done by far, and the one most quoted, was the Women’s Health Initiative study started in 1993 which was created to study he benefits and possible risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women. The study set out to examine women taking a combination of estrogen and progestin, as well as women taking just estrogen replacement therapy.


The side effects were found to be so profound and frequent among the participants that the study was promptly discontinued in 2002. The staggering statistics showed the following: Of the 16,000 participants in the WHI study, hormone replacement side effects included a 26 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer, a100 percent increase in the risk for blood clots,and a 41 percent increase in the risk for strokes. To add to these horrific numbers, the study showed women taking the estrogen only hormone replacement experienced asix to eight times increased risk for uterine cancer and a greater risk for ovarian cancer as well.



Hormone replacement therapy had been a very common treatment for women, especially those who had not had a hysterectomy, and the results of this study came as such a shock to many medical experts and doctors that did not know what to tell their patients. This caused a great amount of fear in women across the nation, since nearly 6 million women were thought to be taking some form of this treatment by then. This fear continues to this day, even though many doctors now prescribe smaller doses of hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen, to women only for a much shorter time period than previous.


Are there alternatives to HRT? Of course, there are more natural alternatives known as bio-identical hormones which are generally made from plants and herbs, which provide a much lower dose of specific hormones needed. The dosage and specific compounds that are mixed together are very specific to each woman, after certain tests are done to find the levels that are needed for her body. These bio-identical forms of hormones can be produced in what is called a “compounding pharmacy”, and they are similar in chemical structure to the real hormones which they will replace: estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone which is also needed for woman at times.


If you are unsure of what your options are, don’t hesitate to get all the information you can about safer alternatives. You can ask your  doctor, but chances are good he won’t have the scoop on natural alternatives so you may need to do your own homework for awhile. At any rate, staying healthy and risk free should your highest priority.



Written by Newport Beach Compounding Center Staff

As one of the most experienced compounding pharmacies in Newport Beach, We provide a valuable service working together with physicians and patients to create medications tailored to specific requirements. We are specialists in the art and science of pharmacy compounding. Our Team of experts can meet all of your unique pharmaceutical needs.

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