Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Therapy (HT) or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Menopause Therapy (MT) is one treatment available for the short-term treatment of menopausal symptoms. It replaces the hormones oestrogen and progesterone which your body stops making after menopause. There are a wide variety of hormone therapy products available in a range of forms such as tablets, patches, implants, gels, creams and sprays.

HT is used to relieve symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Please speak to your doctor about the most appropriate treatment for you.

What is the menopause?

Menopause is a natural part of every woman’s life. Medically, menopause is defined as the end of menstruation or your last menstrual period. It results in part from a reduced production of oestrogen by the ovaries. In Australia and New Zealand the average age at which women experience menopause is 51 but the range for women is between 45 to 55. Peri-menopause refers to the year or so before and after the last natural menstrual period.

Menopause can also occur early (under 40 years) in approximately 1% of women and also after ovarian surgery or chemotherapy. The reasons behind early menopause are unclear.

What happens at the menopause?

Before menopause, the menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones in the body. Two of these hormones are oestrogen and progesterone which are produced by the ovaries and are circulated around the body in the blood. As the production of these hormones starts to decline, your periods become irregular and finally stop altogether. The time that your periods cease is called menopause.

Symptoms of the menopause?

Falling hormone levels cause many women to experience uncomfortable symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety and fatigue. Some women also complain that an inability to concentrate and forgetfulness affect their work performance and relationships with others. Oestrogen deficiency may also cause vaginal dryness (vaginal atrophy, in medical terms), an uncomfortable condition that can result in itching or pain during sexual intercourse.

Symptoms last an average of 3-5 years but every woman is different; some experience symptoms for only a matter of months, while others have them for many years. There are now many choices available to relieve symptoms and your doctor is the best person to talk to.

You can find additional information and resources at the Australasian Menopause Society website click here


Reviewed: August 2019