How Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Work?

Updated April 15, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
HRT can reduce physical side effects stemming from menopause

When it comes to menopause, people go through different experiences. While some will experience minimal side effects, others can go through symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and changes in mood, all of which can cause challenges in functioning. 

Hormone replacement therapy has been identified as one solution for overcoming severe symptoms. Talking with your medical doctor or mental health professional is the best way to determine a cause of treatment, and ahead, we’ll share the benefits of hormone replacement therapy as well as suggestions for addressing mental health concerns stemming from menopause.

What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy is a type of treatment that is used for people who are going through menopause with severe symptoms. Generally, this is a type of pill, but it can come in the form of a patch, gel, ring or cream that is applied to different areas of the body. Inside that product is a type of hormone or set of hormones that will help to balance out the body and allow menopause to occur in as natural a way as possible.

Hormone replacement therapy has been shown to mitigate night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, itching, burning, or discomfort. Participating in HRT can reduce one’s risk of developing conditions like heart disease, colon cancer, and osteoporosis, as well.


For patients who have not had their uterus removed, it is generally advised to take both estrogen and progesterone or progestin because this can help to achieve desired benefits; HRT accomplishes this without promoting the growth of the lining of the uterus. This type of growth can increase your risk of developing uterine cancer. For those who have had their uterus removed, however, progesterone is not required to stop this growth and estrogen can be used on its own.

Drawbacks of hormone replacement therapy

For some people, it can be dangerous to participate in hormone replacement therapy. HRT is associated with an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, breast cancer, blood clots, and gallbladder disease. Others may experience different side effects or risks. Only you and your medical doctor can find out if HRT is the best course of treatment; they will be able to look at your history related to health and determine if a specific type of therapy is going to help you better than others.

Should you get hormone therapy?

If you are experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes or moderate to severe levels of other symptoms, have lost bone mass, or have premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency, then you may be a candidate for this type of therapy. 

If you experience menopause early and don't take some form of estrogen, it can increase your risk for many different diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, anxiety or depression, which is why it's a good idea to get hormone therapy if you experience menopause early. Your doctor will evaluate your age, the risk you have when you started menopause and what type of menopause you have to determine if it is a good idea for you or not.

HRT can reduce physical side effects stemming from menopause

If you have had breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer or have had liver disease, vaginal bleeding, stroke or blood clots in your legs or lungs you generally are not advised to take hormone therapy. For those who don't have a problem with their menopause symptoms or those who go into menopause after they turn 45, there is generally no reason to worry about hormone therapy for maintaining health. Instead, there may be other ways to prevent the risk of osteoporosis or heart disease.

Those experiencing milder symptoms may want to look at options like lifestyle changes or relaxation techniques. Symptoms such as hot flashes can generally be helped with these treatments and even by limiting the amount of alcohol or caffeine that you ingest. Vaginal problems can generally be quelled by over-the-counter medications, though some other forms of medication can be prescribed by your doctor as well. It's up to you to talk with them and find out what your best options are.

Getting help for changes associated with menopause

If you are going through menopause, it may be a good idea to also speak to a mental health professional. This period in a woman's life can be difficult for different reasons – namely, it signals that the ability to reproduce is coming to a close. Having someone to talk to may make the process easier for you. The key is to make sure you find someone that you can feel comfortable talking to about something that is very personal. MyTherapist is one way that you can do just that.

The MyTherapist online therapy platform allows users to find information about different mental health conditions. People can also research different therapists and mental health professionals who can help them to achieve success in overcoming anything that they might be facing. There’s no need to travel to an in-person therapist’s office while you’re experiencing symptoms like hot flashes; through MyTherapist, you can book virtual therapy sessions online from the convenience of your home and at times that work with your routine.

Online therapy has been proven to mitigate the effects of hot flashes and night sweats. A study published in 2019 recruited women age 50 or younger who were diagnosed with breast cancer and participating in one or more of the following treatments: chemotherapy, ovary removal, hormonal therapy. All women were experiencing hot flashes and night sweats. 

The women were categorized into a self-guided online CBT cohort, a therapist-guided online CBT cohort, and a waitlist control group. After participating in the intervention for six weeks, which involved journaling, self-reflection, and mindfulness, women in the self-guided and therapist-guided online CBT cohorts experienced decreases in hot flashes and night sweats as well as improvements in sleep quality. 


While nearly half of the world’s population will go through menopause at some point, that does not mean that the symptoms are easy to manage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly 44% of postmenopausal women participated in some form of HRT, will pills being the most popular intake mode. 

You do not have to go through menopause alone. The compassionate, professional counselors at MyTherapist are here to listen, relate, and direct you to helpful resources. If you are interested in getting support while you go through this important period in your life, you can reach out to a MyTherapist licensed counselor today.

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