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The History of HRT Explained

Over the years, there has been much controversy about HRT risks and hormone replacement therapy side effects. Let’s unpack the facts.

The Facts

Hormone replacement therapy for treating menopausal symptoms has been around since the 1960s. In 2002, media coverage of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a study of 16,000 women taking hormone replacement therapy, reported that HRT side effects posed significant health risks. Almost immediately, physicians stopped prescribing HRT, and women ceased taking it to relieve menopausal symptoms and instead suffered quietly from hot flashes, mood swings, loss of libido and night sweats.

The fact was that the initial media reporting was flawed. Most newspapers, magazines and television outlets failed to report that the average age of women in the WHI study was 65, that they smoked, were overweight and had a history of heart disease—individuals who today would probably not get an HRT prescription from a physician.

Since the 2002 study, dozens of new evidence-based, peer-reviewed research has been completed:  Studies demonstrating that for healthy menopausal women between 45-to-60-years old, HRT therapy alleviates menopausal symptoms, improves the quality of life and libido, and delivers both cardioprotective and neuroprotective health benefits.

How HRT is Given

Another distinction between the 2002 study HRT and today is that previously, HRT was taken orally, traveling through the liver to reach the body. Today, the safest way to administer HRT is by placing a tiny HRT pellet under the skin, slowly and accurately releasing hormones over time. In addition, today’s HRT is made from plant materials biologically identical to human hormones, unlike earlier HRT formulations made from pregnant mares’ urine.

What is abundantly clear is that HRT therapy should be taken under the supervision of a menopause-certified medical doctor trained to understand the women who will benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and those who will not.  Only a doctor can customize and monitor a safe, effective course of HRT therapy to relieve menopause and perimenopause symptoms, allowing a woman in her prime to live life to the fullest.