Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is used to supplement the body with either estrogen alone or a combination of both estrogen and progesterone. This is normally done during and after menopause. The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone and when this production is no longer adequate, HRT can be used to supplement the body with the two hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are important because they help to thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for possible implantation of a fertilized egg.

Estrogen plays an important role on how the body uses calcium. Calcium is crucial for building bones and also helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood. This hormone also helps to keep the vagina healthy. As you approach menopause, your ovaries reduce the production of both estrogen and progesterone. This reduction can lead to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness as well as medical conditions such as osteoporosis.

Hormone replacement therapy replenishes levels of estrogen and progesterone and this helps to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. Progesterone is taken along with estrogen in women who still have a uterus. If your uterus has not been removed and you take estrogen without progesterone, it can increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer. Progesterone reduces the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

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There are two main types of HRT. In estrogen therapy, estrogen is taken alone. Usually doctors recommend a low dose of estrogen to be taken as a pill every day. This type of therapy can help to relieve menopausal symptoms as well as prevent osteoporosis. Combination therapy combines doses of estrogen and progesterone.