Have questions about synthetic hormone replacement therapy? We've got the answers.

1. What is synthetic hormone replacement therapy?

The use of medication containing one or more female hormones, primarily estrogen and the synthetic form of progesterone, known as progestin, to approximate the hormones found in the human body. Some women are also treated using estrogen therapies and progestin separately.

2. What do synthetic hormones do?

Treat the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

3. How are synthetic hormones created?

The most common forms of synthetic hormones consist of mixtures of urine from pregnant mares, known as conjugated equine estrogens (CEE), and progestin. Those synthetic treatments most commonly prescribed are made by pharmaceutical companies that have proprietary claims on drugs.

4. What is synthetic hormone therapy like?

After a doctor determines whether a woman is in hormonal decline, he or she may suggest synthetic hormones, typically at a low dosage for a short amount of time. Typically women are administered this treatment in pill form, though there are other delivery methods.  

5. What are the different forms of administering synthetic hormones?

Doctors may often prescribe cyclic hormone therapy, during which estrogen is taken for 25 days with progestin added at some point during that cycle. After the 25 days are over, no pills are taken for three to five days. There also is continuous, combined therapy in which estrogen and progestin are taken together every day. A hormone replacement therapy patch is also available, and women also may be given a vaginal cream with estrogen for vaginal dryness.

6. How are synthetic hormones taken?

Synthetic hormones can be taken orally, applied via a cream or by a suppository.

7. What are the risks associated with taking synthetic hormones?  

According to the FDA, for some women, hormone therapy may increase the chances of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer and gall bladder disease. For women who have not had their uteruses removed, estrogen increases their chance of getting endometrial cancer. Adding progestin, however, lowers this risk.


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