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Hormone Therapy (HT)


Hormone therapy (HT) is a general term for the use of man-made (synthetic) estrogen, with or without progestin, to treat symptoms caused by the changing hormone levels that occur before and after menopause. Hormone therapy carries some health risks, and its use should be discussed carefully with a health professional.

Hormone therapy includes:

  • Birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin. These can be used before menopause to treat perimenopausal symptoms and prevent pregnancy. Progestin-only pills can be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding associated with perimenopause.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which refers to the use of both estrogen and progestin. The term hormone replacement therapy is sometimes used to refer to any combination of medications involving estrogen, progestin, and androgens.
  • Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), which refers to the use of estrogen without progestin. Most women who use ERT have had their uterus removed (hysterectomy).

When taken after menopause, hormone therapy is also called hormone replacement therapy. But more experts are using the term "hormone therapy" (HT) to avoid the misleading message that women should have premenopausal levels ("replacement") of hormones after menopause.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last RevisedMay 4, 2010

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