hormone replacement therapy

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Related to Estrogen-replacement therapy: HRT

Hormone Replacement Therapy



Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the use of synthetic or natural female hormones to make up for the decline or lack of natural hormones produced in a woman's body. HRT is sometimes referred to as estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), because the first medications that were used in the 1960s for female hormone replacement were estrogen compounds.


In order to understand how HRT works and the controversies surrounding it, women should know that there are different types of estrogen medications commonly prescribed in the United States and Europe. These drugs are given in a variety of prescription strengths and methods of administration. There are at present three estrogen compounds used in Western countries. Only the first two are readily available in the United States.
  • Estrone. Estrone is the form of estrogen present in women after menopause. It is available as tablets under the brand name Ogen. The most commonly prescribed estrogen in the United States, Premarin, is a so-called conjugated estrogen that is a mixture of estrone and other estrogens.
  • Estradiol. This is the form of estrogen naturally present in perimenopausal women. It is available as tablets (Estrace), skin patches (Estraderm), or vaginal creams (Estrace).
  • Estriol. Estriol is a weaker form of estrogen produced by the breakdown of other forms of estrogen in the body. This is the form of estrogen most commonly given in Europe, under the brand name Estriol. It is the only form that is thought not to cause cancer.
In addition to pills taken by mouth, skin patches, and vaginal creams, estrogen preparations can be given by injection or by pellets implanted under the skin. Estrogen implants, however, are used less and less frequently.


Most HRT programs include progestin treatment with estrogen compounds. Progestins—sometimes called progestogens—are synthetic forms of progesterone that are given to reduce the possibility that estrogen by itself will cause cancer of the uterus. Progestins are commonly prescribed under the brand names Provera and Depo-Provera. Other common brand names are Norlutate, Norlutin, and Aygestin.

Estrogen/testosterone combinations

Women's ovaries secrete small amounts of a male sex hormone (testosterone) throughout their lives. Women who have had both ovaries removed by surgery are sometimes given testosterone along with estrogen as part of HRT. Combinations of these hormones are available as tablets under the brand name Estratest or as vaginal creams. Women who cannot take estrogens can use 1% testosterone cream alone for problems with vaginal soreness.

Estrogen/tranquilizer combinations

There are several medications that combine estrogen with a tranquilizer like chlordiazepoxide (sold under the trade name Menrium) or meprobamate (sold under the trade name PMB). Many doctors warn against these combination drugs because the tranquilizers can be habit-forming.


Hormone replacement therapy has been prescribed for two primary purposes: preventive treatment against osteoporosis and heart disease; and relief of physical symptoms associated with menopause.

Menopausal symptoms

Women in midlife enter a stage of development called menopause, when their menstrual periods become irregular and finally stop. The early phase of this transition is called the perimenopause. In the United States, the average age at menopause is presently 50 or 51, but some women begin menopause as early as 40 and others as late as 55. It can take as long as 10 years for a woman to complete the process. Women who have had their ovaries removed surgically are said to have undergone surgical menopause.
Doctors have not always agreed on definitions of menopause. Some use age as the baseline. Others define menopause as the point when a woman has had no menstrual periods for a full calendar year. Still others define menopause as the end of ovulation. It is not always clear, however, when a woman has had her last period or when she has stopped ovulating. In addition, women who take oral contraceptives can have breakthrough bleeding long after they have stopped ovulating. As a result, some doctors now measure the level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a woman's blood to estimate whether the woman has entered menopause. During perimenopause, the FSH levels in a woman's blood rise as her body attempts to stimulate the release of ripe ova. An FSH level over 40 is considered an indicator of menopause.
During the menopausal transition, the levels of estrogen in the woman's body drop. The lowered estrogen level is responsible for a group of symptoms that include hot flashes (or flushes), weight gain, changes in skin texture, mood swings, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, a need to urinate more frequently, and loss of sexual desire. The estrogen that is given in HRT has been shown to eliminate hot flashes, night sweats, lack of vaginal lubrication, and urinary tract problems. HRT will not prevent weight gain or wrinkles. It also does not cure depression in most women.

Preventive care

HRT has been recommended by some doctors to protect women against two serious midlife health problems, including osteoporosis and heart disease. While clinical trials have continued to demonstrate HRT's effectiveness in preventing osteoporosis, women must weigh the risk of the therapy with the benefits. The trials also showed that HRT actually increased rather than decreased risk of heart disease.
OSTEOPOROSIS. Osteoporosis is a disorder in which the bones become more brittle and more easily fractured. It is a particular problem for postmenopausal women because the lower levels of estrogen in the blood lead to weakening of the bone. About 25% of Caucasian women will develop severe osteoporosis; Asian women have a slightly lower risk level; Latino and African American women are least at risk.
In addition to race, there are other factors that put some women at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Women in any of the following groups should take bone loss into account when considering HRT:
  • family history of osteoporosis
  • menopause before age 40
  • kidney disease and dialysis
  • thin body build or being underweight
  • history of colitis, Crohn's disease, or chronic diarrhea
  • thyroid medications
  • childlessness
  • chronic use of antacids
  • lack of exercise
  • poor food choices, including high salt intake, lack of vitamin D, high caffeine consumption, and low calcium intake
  • smoking and alcohol abuse
  • cortisone therapy
HEART DISEASE. Heart disease is a major health concern of women in midlife. It is the leading cause of death in women over 60. The primary disorders of the circulatory system in postmenopausal women are stroke, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. While doctors once believed that HRT helped decrease heart disease and stroke among postmenopausal women, a major clinical trial discovered the opposite to be true. In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) stopped giving HRT to the women enrolled in the study because of adverse effects. Among these effects was a 29% increase in coronary heart disease and 41% increase in stroke in postmenopausal women taking HRT.
Other major factors that are known to increase the risk of heart disease include:
Estrogen replacement patches adhere to a patient's skin and slowly administer estrogen to the body.
Estrogen replacement patches adhere to a patient's skin and slowly administer estrogen to the body.
(Illustration by Argosy Inc.)
  • history of smoking
  • being overweight
  • high-fat diets
  • alcohol abuse
  • family history of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • diabetes.
Less important risk factors include being African American, having a sedentary lifestyle, undergoing menopause before age 45, and having high levels of family- or job-related stress.


Medical conditions

The findings of the WHI presented new problems for the women relying on hormones to ease their transition to menopause and postmenopausal years and for doctors prescribing HRT. The combination of estrogen and progesterone also was found to increase risk of invasive breast cancer by 26%, which was the reason researchers halted the study. In addition, while some clinicians have thought that HRT helped delay dementia (a disorder of the mind that affects memory and perception), the WHI also found that combined estrogen/progesterone increased the risk of probable dementia in women age 65 and older. Physicians and women were advised not to panic about HRT, however. Short-term use of the therapy may not produce these risks. Women have been advised to meet with their physicians and weigh the benefits against the risks on an individual basis.
Certain groups of women should not use HRT. They include women with:
  • breast cancer
  • cancer of the uterus
  • heart disease
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding that has not been diagnosed
  • high blood pressure that rises when HRT is used
  • liver disease
  • gallstones or diseases of the gallbladder

Drug interactions

HRT can interact with other prescription medications that a woman may be taking. Women who are taking corticosteroids, drugs to slow the clotting of blood (anticoagulants), and rifampin should ask their doctor about possible interactions.
Combining estrogens with certain other medicines can cause liver damage. Among the drugs that may cause liver damage when taken with estrogens are:
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol), when used in high doses over long periods
  • anabolic steroids such as nandrolone (Anabolin) or oxymetholone (Anadrol)
  • medicine for infections
  • antiseizure medicines such as divalproex (Depakote), valproic acid (Depakene), or phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • antianxiety drugs, including chlorpromazine (Thorazine), prochlorperazine (Compazine), and thioridazine (Mellaril).
In addition, estrogens may interfere with the effects of bromocriptine (Parlodel), used to treat Parkinson's disease and other conditions; they may also increase the chance of toxic side effects when taken with cyclosporine (Sandimmune), a drug that helps prevent organ transplant rejection.


HRT medications come in several different forms, including tablets, stick-on patches, injections, and creams that are worn inside the vagina. The form prescribed depends on the purpose of the hormone replacement therapy. Women who want relief from vaginal dryness, for example, would be given a cream or vaginal ring. Women using HRT to relieve hot flashes or to prevent osteoporosis and heart disease often prefer oral medications or patches. All HRT medications used in the United States are available only with a doctor's prescription.

Hrt treatment regimens

One of the complications of HRT is the number of treatment options, including combinations of types of estrogen; dosage levels; forms of administration; and whether or not progestins are used with the estrogen to offset the risk of uterine cancer. This variety, however, means that a woman who wants to use HRT while minimizing side effects can try different forms of medication or dosage schedules when she consults her doctor. It is vital, however, for women to follow their doctor's directions exactly and not change dosages themselves.
At present, women who are taking a combination of estrogens and progestins are placed on one of three dosage schedules:
  • Estrogen pills taken daily from the first through the 25th day of each month, with a progestin pill taken daily during the last 10-14 days of the cycle. Both drugs are then stopped for the next five to six days to allow the uterus to shed its lining.
  • Estrogen pills taken on a daily basis with low-dose progestin pills, also on a daily basis. Both medications are taken continuously with no days off.
  • Estrogen pills and low-dose progestins taken on a daily basis for five days each week, with both medications stopped on the last two days of each week.
TIMING AND LENGTH OF TREATMENT. One of the disagreements about HRT concerns the best time to begin using it. Some doctors think that women should begin using HRT while they are still in perimenopause. Others think that there is no harm in a woman's waiting to decide. Either way, the question of timing means that a woman should keep track of changes in her periods and other signs of perimenopause so that her doctor can evaluate her readiness for HRT.
The other question of timing concerns length of treatment. Some women use HRT only as long as they need it to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Others regard it as a lifetime commitment because of concerns about osteoporosis. One study found that the average length of time that women stay on HRT is 23 months. Information from the WHI released in 2002 and 2003 would indicate that long-term HRT use produced too many risks for the expected benefits.
UNWANTED SIDE EFFECTS. In addition to the identified health risks mentioned above, much of the disagreement about unwanted side effects from HRT concerns the role of progestins in the estrogen/progestin combinations that are commonly prescribed. Many women who find that estrogen relieves hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause have the opposite experience with progestin. Progestin frequently causes moodiness, depression, sore breasts, weight gain, and severe headaches.

Other treatment approaches

Women who are uncertain about HRT, or who should not take estrogens, should know about other treatment options, such as natural progesterone. Progestins, which are synthetic hormones, were developed because natural progesterone cannot be absorbed in the body when taken in pill form. A new technique called micronization has made it possible for women to take natural progesterone by mouth. Many women prefer this form of hormone because it lacks the side effects of the synthetic progestins even though it is somewhat more expensive. The most common form of natural progesterone is called Prometrium. which is available by prescription only. Another form of natural progesterone consists of the hormone suspended in vitamin E oil. It is absorbed through the skin and is available without a prescription.
Alternative therapies also are available. Many mainstream as well as alternative practitioners recommend changes in diet and nutrition as helpful during menopause. Women who limit their intake of fats and salts, increase their use of fresh fruits and vegetables, quit smoking, and drink only in moderation often find that these dietary changes help them feel better. Naturopaths typically recommend vitamin and mineral supplements for general well-being as well as for relief from hot flashes and leg cramps. In addition, herbal teas and tonics are helpful to some women in treating water retention, insomnia, constipation, or moodiness.
Women who find menopause emotionally stressful because of negative social attitudes toward older women are often helped by meditation, biofeedback, therapeutic massage, and other relaxation techniques. Yoga and tai chi provide physical exercise as well as stress reduction. Exercise is an important safeguard against osteoporosis.


Women who are considering HRT should visit their doctor for a series of tests to make sure that they do not have any serious health disorders. They should have a Pap smear and breast examination to rule out cancer. They also should have a urinalysis, a bone density test, and blood tests to measure their red blood cell level, blood sugar level, cholesterol level, and liver and thyroid function.
In addition to these tests, most doctors will also give a progesterone challenge test. It consists of doses of progesterone given over a 10-day period to see if the woman is still producing her own estrogen. If she bleeds at the end of the test, she is still producing estrogen.


Aftercare is a very important part of HRT. Women who are taking HRT will need to see their doctor more frequently. At a minimum, they should be checked twice a year with a blood pressure test and breast examination. They should have a complete physical on a yearly basis. Any abnormal bleeding must be reported to the doctor as soon as it occurs. The doctor will need to order a tissue biopsy or dilation and curettage (D & C) in order to rule out cancer of the uterus.
Women who are taking HRT and decide to stop should taper their dosage over a period of several months rather than discontinuing abruptly. A gradual reduction minimizes the possibility of hot flashes and other side effects.

Key terms

Dilation and curettage (D & C) — A surgical procedure in which the patient's cervix is widened (dilated) and the endometrium is scraped with a scoop-shaped instrument (curette).
Estrogen — The primary sex hormone that controls normal sexual development in females. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen helps prepare the body for possible pregnancy.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) — A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the follicles in the ovaries to swell and release ripe ova. Doctors sometimes use its levels in a woman's blood to evaluate whether she is in menopause.
Hormone — A substance secreted by an endocrine gland that is carried by blood or other body fluids to its target tissues or organs.
Hot flash — A warm or hot sensation on the face, neck and upper body, sometimes accompanied by flushing and sweating. Some women refer to hot flashes as hot flushes.
Osteoporosis — A bone disorder in which the bones become brittle, porous, and easily broken. It is a major health concern for postmenopausal women.
Ovary — The female sex gland that produces eggs and female reproductive hormones.
Ovulation — The cyclical process of egg maturation and release from the ovary.
Progesterone — A female hormone produced by the ovary. It functions to prepare the lining of the uterus to receive a fertilized ovum.
Progesterone challenge test — A test that is given to see if a woman is still secreting estrogen. It consists of doses of progesterone given over a 10-day period.
Progestin — Synthetic progesterone available as an oral medication.
Testosterone — A male sex hormone that is sometimes given as part of HRT to women whose ovaries have been removed. Testosterone helps with problems of sexual desire.
Uterus — The hollow organ in women in which fertilized eggs develop during pregnancy. The uterus is sometimes called the womb.


The short-term risks associated with HRT include a range of physical side effects. Common side effects include fluid retention, bloating, weight gain, sore breasts, leg cramps, vaginal discharges, migraine headaches, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, acne, depression, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Potentially serious side effects include tissue growths in the uterus (fibroids), gallstones, thrombophlebitis, hypoglycemia, abnormal growth (hyperplasia) of uterine tissue, thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Long-term risks should be discussed with a woman's physicians before considering hormone replacement therapy. Identified risks for combined (estrogen plus progestin) HRT use include increased incidence of invasive breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and pulmonary embolism.

Normal results

Normal results of HRT include relief of hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and urinary symptoms associated with menopause.



Goldman, Lee, et al, editors. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. W. B. Saunders, 2000.
Goroll, Alan H. Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.


Doering, Paul L. "Treatment of Menopause Post-WHI: What Now?" Drug Topics April 21, 2003: 85.
Elliott, William T. "HRT, Estrogen, and Postmenopausal Women: Year-old WHI Study Continues to Raise Questions." Critical Care Alert July 2003: 1.


Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy. Fact sheet. National Cancer Institute. http://rex.nci.nih.gov.


activity therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the prescription of and assistance with specific physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual activities to increase the range, frequency, or duration of an individual's (or group's) activity.
aerosol therapy see aerosol therapy.
animal-assisted therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the purposeful use of animals to provide affection, attention, diversion, and relaxation.
anticoagulant therapy see anticoagulant therapy.
antineoplastic therapy see antineoplastic therapy.
antiplatelet therapy the use of platelet inhibitors such as aspirin, dipyridamole, or sulfinpyrazone, to inhibit platelet adhesion or aggregation and so prevent thrombosis, alter the course of atherosclerosis, or prolong vascular graft patency.
art therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as facilitation of communication through drawings or other art forms.
aversion therapy (aversive therapy) a form of behavior therapy that uses aversive conditioning, pairing undesirable behavior or symptoms with unpleasant stimulation in order to reduce or eliminate the behavior of symptoms. The term is sometimes used synonymously with aversive conditioning.
behavior therapy see behavior therapy.
carbon dioxide–oxygen therapy see carbon dioxide–oxygen therapy.
chest physical therapy see under physical therapy.
client-centered therapy a form of psychotherapy in which the emphasis is on the patient's self-discovery, interpretation, conflict resolution, and reorganization of values and life approach, which are enabled by the warm, nondirective, unconditionally accepting support of the therapist, who reflects and clarifies the patient's discoveries.
cognitive therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy) a directive form of psychotherapy based on the theory that emotional problems result from distorted attitudes and ways of thinking that can be corrected. Using techniques drawn in part from behavior therapy, the therapist actively seeks to guide the patient in altering or revising negative or erroneous perceptions and attitudes.
collapse therapy a formerly common treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis in which the diseased lung was collapsed in order to immobilize it and allow it to rest. pneumonolysis and thoracoplasty are methods still sometimes used to collapse a lung and allow access during thoracic surgery.
combined modality therapy treatment of cancer using two or more types of therapy, such as with chemoradiotherapy. Called also multimodality therapy.
compression therapy treatment of venous insufficiency, varicose veins, or venous ulceration of the lower limbs by having the patient wear compressing garments such as support hose.
continuous renal replacement therapy hemodialysis or hemofiltration done 24 hours a day for an extended period, usually in a critically ill patient.
convulsive therapy treatment of mental disorders, primarily depression, by induction of convulsions. The type almost universally used now is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which the convulsions are induced by electric current. In the past, drugs were sometimes used.
couples therapy marital t.
diet therapy treatment of disease by regulation of the diet.
electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (electroshock therapy) see electroconvulsive therapy.
endocrine therapy treatment of disease by means of hormones; called also hormonal or hormone therapy.
estrogen replacement therapy administration of an estrogen to treat estrogen deficiency, such as that occurring after menopause; there are a number of indications, including the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis and coronary artery disease, and the prevention and treatment of vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and of thinning of the skin and vaginal epithelium, atrophic vaginitis, and vulvar atrophy. In women with a uterus, a progestational agent is usually included to prevent endometrial hyperplasia. Called also hormone replacement therapy.
exercise therapy: ambulation in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as promotion of and assistance with walking to maintain or restore autonomic and voluntary body functions during treatment and recovery from illness or injury.
exercise therapy: balance in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as use of specific activities, postures, and movements to maintain, enhance, or restore balance.
exercise therapy: joint mobility in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the use of active or passive body movement to maintain or restore joint flexibility.
exercise therapy: muscle control in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the use of specific activity or exercise protocols to enhance or restore controlled body movement.
family therapy
1. group therapy of the members of a family, exploring and improving family relationships and processes, understanding and modifying home influences that contribute to mental disorder in one or more family members, and improving communication and collective, constructive methods of problem-solving.
2. in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as assisting family members to move their family toward a more productive way of living.
gold therapy chrysotherapy.
group therapy see group therapy.
helium-oxygen therapy see helium-oxygen therapy.
hemodialysis therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as management of extracorporeal passage of the patient's blood through a hemodialyzer. See also hemodialysis.
hemofiltration therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as cleansing of acutely ill patient's blood via a hemofilter controlled by the patient's hydrostatic pressure. See also hemofiltration.
highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) the aggressive use of extremely potent antiretroviral agents in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection.
hormonal therapy (hormone therapy) endocrine therapy.
hormone replacement therapy the administration of hormones to correct a deficiency; usually used to denote estrogen replacement therapy occurring after menopause.
host modulating therapy efforts to control periodontal disease by directly targeting the host response; an example is the use of drugs that do this, such as sub-antimicrobial doses of doxycycline, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, or bisphosphonates.
humidification therapy (humidity therapy) the therapeutic use of air supersaturated with water to prevent or correct a moisture deficit in the respiratory tract; see also humidity therapy.
immunosuppressive therapy therapeutic immunosuppression.
inhalation therapy the term formerly used for respiratory care (def. 3).
intravenous therapy (IV therapy) in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as administration and monitoring of intravenous infusions of fluids and medications.
leech therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the application of medicinal leeches to help drain replanted or transplanted tissue engorged with venous blood.
marital therapy a type of family therapy aimed at understanding and treating one or both members of a couple in the context of a distressed relationship, but not necessarily addressing the discordant relationship itself. In the past, the term has also been used in a narrower sense to mean what is defined as marriage therapy, but that is increasingly considered a subset of marital therapy. Called also couples therapy.
marriage therapy a subset of marital therapy that focuses specifically on the bond of marriage between two people, enhancing and preserving it.
milieu therapy
1. treatment, usually in a psychiatric treatment center, that emphasizes the provision of an environment and activities appropriate to the patient's emotional and interpersonal needs.
2. in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the use of people, resources, and events in the patient's immediate environment to promote optimal psychosocial functioning.
multimodality therapy combined modality therapy.
music therapy
1. the use of music to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems. Music therapy is used for a wide variety of conditions, including mental disorders, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions related to aging, brain injury, substance abuse, and physical disability. It is also used for the management of acute and chronic pain and for the reduction of stress.
2. in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as using music to help achieve a specific change in behavior or feeling.
neoadjuvant therapy in single-agent therapy or combined modality therapy for cancer, initial use of one modality, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, to decrease tumor burden prior to use of another modality, usually surgery.
nutrition therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as administration of food and fluids to support metabolic processes of a patient who is malnourished or at high risk for becoming malnourished. See also nutrition.
occupational therapy see occupational therapy.
optometric vision therapy a treatment plan prescribed to correct or improve specific dysfunctions of the vision system; it includes, but is not limited to, the treatment of strabismus (turned eye), other dysfunctions of binocularity (eye teaming), amblyopia (lazy eye), accommodation (eye focusing), ocular motor function (general eye movement ability), and visual-motor and visual-perceptual abilities.
oral rehydration therapy (ORT) oral administration of a solution of electrolytes and carbohydrates in the treatment of dehydration.
oxygen therapy see oxygen therapy.
peritoneal dialysis therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as administration and monitoring of dialysis solution into and out of the peritoneal cavity. See also peritoneal dialysis.
physical therapy see physical therapy.
play therapy see play therapy.
pulp canal therapy root canal therapy.
PUVA therapy [psoralen + ultraviolet A], a form of photochemotherapy for skin disorders such as psoriasis and vitiligo; oral psoralen administration is followed two hours later by exposure to ultraviolet a radiation.
radiation therapy see radiation therapy.
recreation therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the purposeful use of recreation to promote relaxation and enhancement of social skills.
reminiscence therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as using the recall of past events, feelings, and thoughts to facilitate pleasure, quality of life, or adaptation to present circumstances.
renal replacement therapy therapy such as hemodialysis or transplantation that takes the place of nonfunctioning kidneys. See also continuous renal replacement therapy.
replacement therapy treatment to replace deficient formation or loss of body products by administration of the natural body products or synthetic substitutes. See also replacement. Called also substitution therapy.
respiratory therapy respiratory care.
root canal therapy that aspect of endodontics dealing with the treatment of diseases of the dental pulp, consisting of partial (pulpotomy) or complete (pulpectomy) extirpation of the diseased pulp, cleaning and sterilization of the empty root canal, enlarging and shaping the canal to receive sealing material, and obturation of the canal with a nonirritating hermetic sealing agent. Called also pulp canal therapy.
shock therapy obsolete term for convulsive therapy.
simple relaxation therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the use of techniques to encourage and elicit relaxation for the purpose of decreasing undesirable signs and symptoms such as pain, muscle tension, or anxiety.
speech therapy the use of special techniques for correction of speech disorders.
substitution therapy replacement therapy.
swallowing therapy in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as facilitating swallowing and preventing complications of impaired swallowing.
thrombolytic therapy the administration of drugs for thrombolysis (dissolution of a thrombus in an artery), to reduce the size of occlusion and thereby reduce damage to muscular tissue; the coronary artery is a commonly used site. Agents commonly used are streptokinase and tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA).
thyroid replacement therapy treatment of hypothyroidism by administration of thyroxine, usually in the form of levothyroxine sodium. Called also thyrotherapy.
ultraviolet therapy see ultraviolet therapy.

estrogen replacement therapy (ERT),

administration of sex hormones to women after menopause or oophorectomy.

In the later decades of the 20th century, estrogen replacement therapy became a standard practice for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. During the 1980s, recognition that administration of unopposed estrogen increases the risk of endometrial cancer led to the addition of progestogen to postmenopausal regimens. In 2000, at least one third of American women between the ages of 50 and 75 were taking estrogenic hormones. The notion that estrogen replacement therapy, widely used to combat menopausal symptoms such as atrophic vaginitis and vasomotor instability ("hot flashes"), might also protect against cardiovascular disease arose partly from the statistical observation that a woman's risk of adverse cardiovascular events increases rapidly after menopause. But although numerous observational studies previously seemed to confirm this protective role of hormones, large and powerful clinical trials later demonstrated not only a lack of benefit from estrogen administration but actually an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism, invasive breast cancer, and Alzheimer dementia. Administration of estrogen after natural or surgical menopause remains an effective measure against vasomotor instability and atrophic vaginitis; raises HDL cholesterol; lowers levels of total and LDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, lipoprotein Lp(a), homocysteine, fibrinogen, and renin, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and colorectal cancer. It is also used for palliation in selected patients with breast and prostatic cancer. However, it is no longer endorsed as prophylaxis against cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women, because the risk of adverse effects appears to outweigh expected benefits for most women. Although estrogen therapy helps prevent bone loss after menopause, evidence is lacking that it reduces the risk of fractures. Moreover, anecdotal reports that estrogen may retard the onset and progression of Type 2 diabetes mellitus, parkinsonism, and Alzheimer dementia lack firm experimental support. In fact, the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study found that estrogen plus progestogen therapy slightly increases the risk of dementia. Postmenopausal women with established cardiovascular disease who take estrogen experience about a threefold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism. Women with a history of prior ischemic stroke who take estrogen have an increased risk of subsequent fatal stroke. Postmenopausal women who take estrogen have a 40% increase in the risk of gallbladder disease. Several studies have indicated an increased incidence of carcinoma of the breast, ovary, and endometrium. Combining cyclic progestogen administration with daily estrogen restores menstrual cycles (when the uterus is intact) but apparently does not reduce the risk of carcinogenesis, and may even increase it. In addition, current studies suggest that estrogen alone is less likely than estrogen-progestogen to cause adverse cardiovascular effects.

hormone replacement therapy

n. Abbr. HRT
The administration of estrogen, usually in combination with a progestogen, to relieve the symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in women. Hormone replacement therapy has been associated with certain risks, such as an increased risk of breast cancer. Also called menopausal hormone therapy.

hormone replacement therapy1

the administration of sex hormones following menopause or hysterectomy or in amenorrhea. There are a number of indications, including the induction of menses in amenorrhea. If used for postmenopausal symptoms, it should be given in the smallest effective dose for the shortest period of time. Following the completion of the Women's Health Initiative study, hormone replacement therapy is no longer used for the prevention of osteoporosis or coronary artery disease.

hormone replacement therapy2

a nursing intervention from the Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) defined as facilitation of safe and effective use of hormone replacement therapy. See also Nursing Interventions Classification.

hormone replacement therapy

Hormonal replacement therapy Gynecology The administration of estrogen or progestins to ♀ to alleviate Sx of menopause–eg, urogenital atrophy and psychological symptoms, and slow or reverse osteoporosis and ↓ risk of ischemic heart disease and, more recently, Alzheimer's disease. See Estrogen replacement therapy. Cf Androgen replacement therapy.

es·tro·gen re·place·ment ther·a·py

(ERT) (es'trŏ-jen rĕ-plās'mĕnt thār'ă-pē)
Administration of sex hormones to women after menopause or oophorectomy.
Synonym(s): hormone replacement therapy, oestrogen replacement therapy.

hormone replacement therapy

HRT, the long-term prescription of synthetic or natural hormones to people whose endocrine glands have had to be removed or, for other reasons, no longer secrete adequate quantities of the natural hormones. The term is often applied to the treatment of postmenopausal women with oral, trans-dermal (patch) or depot OESTROGEN or combined oestrogen and progestogen preparations, to alleviate menopausal symptoms and to try to prevent rapid progression of OSTEOPOROSIS. Commonly abbreviated to HRT. After years of general medical approval, HRT has recently come in for criticism on the grounds that it does not, as was formerly believed, protect post-menopausal women against coronary heart disease, and that it slightly increases the risk of breast cancer and venous thromboembolism. In spite of its obvious advantages in reducing the risk of bone fracture and other complications of osteoporosis, it is no longer recommended indiscriminately for all post-menopausal women. Women who stop taking HRT and who have enjoyed an increase in bone-mineral density will lose this most of this gain in the two years following cessation. A report of the experience of over 1 million women between 1996 and 2001, published in August 2003, concerned itself with the increased risk of breast cancer and showed that five years of HRT would produce 5 to 6 additional cases of breast cancer in every 1000 women. Other research has shown that HRT also produces 6 additional cases of coronary heart disease per 100,000 women.

hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

the use of female hormones (which may be artifically manufactured) to replace those no longer being produced naturally HRT may be used after MENOPAUSE or the surgical removal of the ovaries. HRT is effective against many conditions, e.g. OSTEOPOROSIS.

hormone replacement therapy

; HRT therapeutic use of systemic oestrogen and progesterone in premenopausal and menopausal women to reduce menopause-associated systemic symptoms, e.g. osteoporosis, fracture, ischaemic heart and cerebrovascular disease; long-term HRT is linked to increased incidence of breast cancer
References in periodicals archive ?
Estrogen-replacement therapy is often prescribed to relieve the hot flashes and other discomforts of menopause; it also is thought to protect against the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and heart disease.
The researchers say their data indicate that soy probably won't make a good substitute for estrogen-replacement therapy for bone protection, though it may offer a good adjunct.
Meanwhile, Cohen's team is testing a drug that substitutes 75 mg of melatonin for the progesterone normally given daily to postmenopausal women as part of estrogen-replacement therapy (SN: 2/4/95, p.
Even more important women getting estrogen-replacement therapy after menopause had decreased amounts of PAI, more like those of premenopausal women.
It is well-known that estrogen-replacement therapy lowers a woman's risk of getting heart disease.