Last reviewed in September 2019 by Nikki Porges, a registered nurse in our Health at Hand team and a specialist in women's health.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) contains small doses of oestrogen (and progesterone in those with a uterus) to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.
Many women stop taking HRT after about 5 years after they start taking HRT or soon after their symptoms are no longer a problem. If they are on a higher dose of oestrogen then a gradual reduction in the oestrogen levels over 2-3 months is necessary to prevent the menopausal symptoms returning. Those who are taking a HRT with a low dose of oestrogen the gradual reduction may not be required. However, on stopping many women have a return of their menopausal symptoms but these are often mild and resolve in time with no treatment.
If your symptoms are severe when you stop then you need to discuss this matter with your GP who may prescribe a low dose HRT. Your doctor will need to consider your individual risk of developing breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, venous thromboembolism, stroke and coronary heart disease before he takes this step.
After stopping many women experience bladder and vaginal symptoms. These can be controlled with creams or pessaries that contain a very low dose oestrogen. These still pose the risks associated with the use of HRT but to a much lower extent because they tend to act locally and very small amount is visible in your bloodstream.
If you have a question about HRT, the menopause or any other aspect of your health and wellbeing, our Health at Hand team are available to support you, at any time of the day and night. Simply post your question online using our Ask the expert service and one of our team of nurses, midwives and pharmacists will get to you with an answer as soon as they are able to, depending on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts.
Alternatively, take a look at our Women’s health hub for more like this.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - NHS factsheet
Menopause - NHS factsheet
Menopause management - AXA Health
Menopause symptoms, self-help and treatment - AXA Health
I'm considering taking HRT for the menopause - Ask the Expert
Since the menopause I've put on weight - Ask the Expert
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