Do you know what the acronym HRT stands for? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn everything you want to know about the meaning of HRT.
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle slows down, bringing an end to her monthly period. It’s a completely normal part of aging. Due to fluctuating hormones, the years leading up to menopause are often accompanied by a number of uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Thankfully, HRT is designed to help.
Interested in learning more? If so, you’re in the right place! Read on to discover our complete guide on HRT, where you’ll learn what the acronym stands for, what it means, and who it benefits.
What Does HRT Stand For?
Although the acronym HRT can stand for “Hostage Rescue Team,” it’s most commonly used today to mean “hormone replacement therapy.” To further your understanding of this term, let’s take a look at a few definitions:
- The Macmillan Dictionary defines HRT as a medical treatment designed to reduce the effects of a women’s menopause.
- An abbreviation for hormone replacement therapy, the Collins Dictionary says HRT is given to women and involves taking the hormone estrogen, usually in order to control the symptoms of menopause.
- According to the National Cancer Institute, HRT is treatment with hormones to replace natural hormones when the body doesn’t make enough.
After reviewing the above definitions, it’s easy to see that HRT is an abbreviation for hormone replacement therapy and refers to a type of treatment that involves taking hormones to prevent or treat certain medical conditions — namely, menopause.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Also known as hormone therapy (HT) or menopausal hormone therapy, HRT is hormones your primary care provider prescribes to replace or supplement the ones your body is struggling to make. This popular treatment often comes in a pill, tablet, skin patch, gel, spray, or vaginal cream.
The majority of women who undergo HRT take a combination of estrogen (or oestrogen) and progestogen (the name for manufactured progesterone).
This is because taking estrogen alone can cause the uterus (aka, womb) lining to build up, which may increase the risk of endometrial cancer — thankfully, taking progestogen as well reduces that risk. That said, if you’ve had your uterus removed (hysterectomy), you may not need to take progesterone or progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone).
What Are the Different Types of HRT?
HRT primarily focuses on replacing the estrogen that the body no longer makes after menopause. The two main types of estrogen therapy include:
- Systemic hormone therapy typically contains a higher dose of the all-important hormone that is absorbed through the body via pill, patch, ring, cream, gel, or spray.
- Low-dose vaginal products minimize the amount of estrogen absorbed by the body and usually come in a cream, tablet, or ring.
What Are the Benefits of HRT?
The best benefit of HRT is that it can be used to relieve most of the common symptoms of menopause, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- High blood pressure
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced sex drive
- Poor sleep
In addition, HRT can also help prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis (thinning bones).
Does HRT Have Side Effects?
Like any supplement or medication, HRT can have potential side effects. Thankfully, these are usually minor and tend to go away once the body adjusts to the hormones. Common side effects of HRT may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
If you have concerns or are experiencing any questionable side effects, be sure to get with your primary care provider. Together, you can work out a plan to effectively manage your symptoms with as few side effects as possible.
Who Should Not Use HRT?
Doctors prescribe HRT to help soothe menopausal symptoms, but hormone therapy isn’t appropriate for everyone. According to experts, you should not use HRT if you:
- Think you’re pregnant
- Have issues with vaginal bleeding
- Have had certain kinds of cancer
- Have liver disease
- Have had blood clots
- Have had a stroke or heart attack (cardiovascular disease)
- Have a sensitivity to the components of hormone therapy, such as conjugated estrogens
Although research for HRT is still ongoing, a recent study that consisted of an estrogen-progestin pill called Prempro was linked to an increased risk of certain conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer.
That said, subsequent studies have suggested that these risks may vary depending on a few things, such as:
- Type of hormone therapy
- Health history
When deciding whether HRT is right for you, all of these risks should be taken into consideration. Seek specialist advice from a reputable menopause clinic or trusted menopause specialist. Regular check-ups are recommended.
So, what does HRT mean, you ask?
Simply put, HRT is an abbreviation that stands for hormone replacement therapy and refers to a form of treatment used to soothe the symptoms commonly associated with menopause. These symptoms may include accelerated skin aging, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats — just to name a few.
Thinking about HRT? Contact your primary care provider to see if this type of therapy is right for you.