How will HRT benefit me?
Systemic HRT (HRT that affects your whole body) protects you from a very serious health risk – these HRTs has a very significant effect on bone health to dramatically reduce the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture. This is because they:
- Reduces loss of calcium from the skeleton, helps maintain healthy bone strength (bone mineral density – BMD)
- Directly promotes new bone growth
- Prevents the chance of a major osteoporotic fracture by 50%
Fracturing a major site such as your hip is linked to a 20% increased risk of dying. For those who survive, they often lose their independence and report a lower quality of life.
Systemic HRT may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke too:
- Relaxes smooth muscle, hence slightly lowers blood pressure, just a few degrees (but it does not cause high blood pressure)
- Helps maintain the smoothness of arterial vessel walls – important as it is fragments of fatty deposits which can sheer off the vessel wall that give rise to heart attacks and strokes)
- Positively affects cholesterol to increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol
- Promotes carbohydrate metabolism and is beneficial in diabetes
Systemic HRT may also reduce the risk of:
As well as health risks, HRT can also improve the symptoms of menopause (the number of symptoms improved will depend on the type of HRT). These include:
- The frequency/severity of hot flushes and night sweats – may even get rid of these completely
- Can improve sleeping patterns
- Energy levels – once the hot flushes have gone and are sleep has improved, women have more energy and feel better in themselves
- Helps stabilise mood (although HRT is not an antidepressant) and reduces anxiety
- Relieves symptoms of vaginal dryness
- Improves urinary symptoms
- Reduces the discomfort from painful sex/ in this way can help with general interest in sex/sexual function
- Can improve the condition of skin, hair and nails
HRT needs is most helpful when taken at the right time in your life – for the most part, these benefits are seen in women who use HRT through the menopausal transition, and this time period is called “the window of opportunity.” This means women taking HRT in their 50’s-60’s. This is because, if they do not take HRT through the window of opportunity, the disease precursors may develop, and by the time take HRT later in life, it may be too late for HRT to have any influence or be more risky to use.
Please note – some benefits that occur while taking HRT are lost when HRT is discontinued.