TLDR: In this blog we take a look at 6 different types of HRT, all based on Rachel’s real-life experience.
Don’t want to read? Let me read this one out for you!
Whether entering menopause through natural means or after a hysterectomy, HRT is likely to come up with a doctor or in conversations with friends.
HRT, or hormone replacement therapy, is something that I researched a lot as soon as I knew I’d be having a hystrectomy. It was a term I’d heard my mum use, and I knew a little bit about it, but with it being something I was facing at 30, my interest peaked.
Thankfully, there’s some great information on HRT and the different types of websites you can trust, like the NHS and various menopause charities.
Here’s what I learned from my research prior to surgery, and since taking it.
What is HRT?
HRT is a hormone replacement therapy. When you have surgery that puts you in menopause or if you naturally go into it, your hormones will be out of whack. This is where some women report hot flushes, rage, forgetfulness, and just feeling like they’re a different person. Thankfully, HRT can help relieve some of the unwanted symptoms of the menopause.
Those who still have their womb are given combined HRT, which contains oestrogen and progestogen. For those who have a hysterectomy, they have oestrogen only HRT – like me.
How do you take HRT?
There are lots of different ways to take HRT including:
- Skin patches
- Vaginal oestrogen
The different types of HRT options have their benefits for different symptoms. For example, testosterone may help boost libido, and vaginal oestrogen may help reduce vaginal dryness but won’t help with hot flushes. If you are suffering from vaginal dryness we have looked into more ways to relieve it here.
Personally, I use oestrogen gel, which I have found works well for me. I make sure I take it around the same time every day to help me get in a routine and to avoid going longer than 24 hours without a top-up.
I had my hormone levels checked to make sure I am getting enough as it can be quite hard to know without a proper test. Currently, I am on four pumps a day which is the maximum dose. I can always tell when I’m at the bottom of a bottle too – I notice my mood changes, possibly because the end of the bottle doesn’t give a full pump. It’s almost like my own little period cycle : )
How long are you on HRT?
I had my surgery at 30 and have been on HRT ever since. People often ask me, how long will I take HRT? My guess? Who knows. Maybe when I’m 50 and ready for the menopause, or maybe not. The queen took it every day and she was in pretty good condition!
What happens if you miss a few days of HRT?
I’ve only ever gone a few days without HRT – by accident when I was on holiday – and I had a headache. It’s hard to say what life without HRT would be like, but my guess is I’d probably be more anxious and struggle to sleep even more than I already do.
What are the side effects of HRT?
My most negative side effect would be bloating. There is an increased risk of blood clots and some cancers when using HRT. The NHS writes the following side effects:
- breast tenderness or swelling
- swelling in other parts of the body
- feeling sick
- leg cramps
- vaginal bleeding
Sometimes there are shortages of HRT, something I’ve experienced, though luckily I’ve managed to get it after a hunt around! I used the Vaginal HRT for a few days to give my body oestrogen, then I switched back to topical gel.
The shortage is mostly for the topical oestrogen gel and certain brands. It’s apparently because more women are taking HRT these days rather than being flawed by symptoms and just putting up with it. This high demand has meant that supplies have been depleted.
My HRT Experience
I’ve been on HTR since I had the hysterectomy, so I’m not sure what life would be like without it and I don’t plan on finding out anytime soon! You can read about my recovery from my hysterectomy and experience with surgical menopause here.
I did lots of research for which HRT I felt was best and spoke to my doctor for advice too. I took time to read up on symptoms and side effects, then weighed them out with symptoms of the meno.
If you’re interested in more about my hysterectomy story, you might enjoy these blogs: