Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment for women who have reached menopause or are postmenopausal, and consists of small doses of one or two female hormones. These hormones -- estrogen and progesterone -- replace the hormones that a woman's body no longer produces after menopause.
HRT was a common treatment used for postmenopausal woman in the past, but that is no longer true. In 2002, a large clinical study revealed that the health risks of HRT may outweigh the health benefits. When estrogen and progestin were taken together, the health risks included:
- An increased risk of breast cancer
- An increased risk of heart disease
- An increased risk of stroke
- An increased risk of blood clots
Research showed that women taking estrogen alone didn't have an increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease, but the other risks were still evident.
For some patients, taking hormone replacement therapy may also cause heartburn, in addition to the increased risks above.