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Making sense of hormone replacement therapy

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Symptoms of menopause include hot flushes Symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep disturbance

Women often have many questions for the prescribing practitioner about the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and there is a lot of information that needs to be provided within an ‘HRT consultation’. This article will explore the indications for HRT, its potential benefits and risks and answer some of the questions frequently asked by women and health professionals.

Background

The menopause is the permanent cessation of menstrual cycles following the loss of ovarian follicular activity. It usually occurs when a woman is in her early 50s, but can occur at any age. When it occurs under the age of 40 years, it is described as premature, although the term ‘premature ovarian insufficiency’ more accurately reflects the event in younger women as there may be fluctuating episodes of ovarian activity before menopause finally occurs. Menopause is often spontaneous (natural menopause) but may result from surgical removal of the ovaries as well as a result of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.


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