Women’s Health Expert Marla Ahlgrimm on Finding the Right Regimen for HRT
According to pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be prescribed in a number of different ways, depending on the individual needs of each woman. While some women require estrogen, many receive both estrogen and a progestogen.
Q: How does hormone replacement therapy work?
Marla Ahlgrimm: When estrogen and progesterone levels drop, some women may benefit from artificially boosting hormone levels to reduce certain menopausal symptoms. HRT increases the estrogen and progestin levels in the body.
Q: HRT can be prescribed in different ways. What are the main types of hormone replacement therapy?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are three main types of HRT. Hormone replacement therapy with only estrogen is for women who have had a hysterectomy and their uterus and ovaries have been removed. They do not need progesterone, because there is no risk of endometrial cancer. Cyclical HRT is for patients who are still menstruating but have menopausal-like symptoms. These patients are given an estrogen daily and estrogen plus a progestogen for 14 days. Continuous HRT is used for post-menopausal patients. They take a combination of estrogen and a progestogen daily.
Q: How is HRT taken?
Marla Ahlgrimm: HRT may be taken orally as a tablet or capsule, applied as a skin patch, cream or gel, or used in the vagina if the woman has vaginal dryness.
Q: What is the most widely used form of estrogen?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The most widely used form of estrogen is oral estrogen.
Q: When should I contact my doctor?
Marla Ahlgrimm: You should call your doctor if you experience nausea, abdominal pain or cramping, swollen or tender breasts, or more vaginal bleeding than expected. A sudden weight gain or loss could be a concern as well.