How do I take the medicine?
This depends on the type of HRT you are taking (oestrogen only or combined) and does not always mean tablets. The different types, or ‘preparations’, of HRT are:
HRT patches can contain oestrogen, alone or with progestogen. They are applied once or twice a week to any area below the waist. They are effective in relieving both short-term symptoms and, if taken for longer, the long-term complications of the menopause.
A wide range of tablets are available, and they are taken once a day. They can contain oestrogen or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone. They are effective in relieving both short-term symptoms and, if taken for longer, the long-term complications of the menopause.
Oestrogen is also available in the form of a gel. It is applied once a day to a clean, dry, unbroken area of skin, usually on the upper arm, shoulder or inner thigh. It is rubbed in and takes a few minutes to dry. The gel is clear and non-greasy.
If you have a womb then you will also need to have progesterone to protect the womb lining. This can be in the form of either tablets or Intra Uterine System (IUS) Mirena coil.
Oestrogen and testosterone can be administered via implants inserted beneath the skin.
Vaginal oestrogen (local HRT)
Vaginal creams, vaginal tablets, vaginal rings or vaginal pessaries contain a small amount of oestrogen and only work for specific symptoms where they are applied, such as vaginal dryness and urinary symptoms. Local HRT will not improve other symptoms such as hot flushes, or protect against the longer-term effects of the menopause such as osteoporosis. Local HRT does not have the same increased risks as other types of HRT so can be used by most women.