What to Expect When You Start Hormone Replacement Therapy
You've completed your first appointment with me and now you are about to start treatment. Starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can provide welcome relief for unpleasant menopause symptoms. But there may be lingering questions after leaving your first appointment.
The goal of this post is to give you realistic information on what to expect, both benefits and side effects, while you pursue HRT.
How hormone therapy works
Expected timeline for symptom relief
Possible short-term side effects
Long-term health benefits
Risks to be aware of
Tips to get the most out of treatment
Let’s get started!
How Hormone Replacement Therapy Works
HRT involves taking small doses of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and others to restore normal levels. This relieves symptoms that occur from the declines during menopause.
The most common delivery methods are:
Estrogen and progesterone pills
Gels or creams
Pellets placed under the skin
Bioidentical hormones have the same chemical structure as your body’s hormones. They are engineered to be identical matches and bind optimally to hormone receptors.
The right combination and dosing will balance your hormones for optimal functioning. Let’s see what you can expect in the first weeks and months after starting HRT.
What to Expect in the First Months
Most women notice some effects within 1-2 weeks after beginning hormone therapy. But the full benefits build gradually over 3-6 months as levels regulate.
Here's a look at the timeline you can expect:
Improved mood and sleep
Some relief from hot flashes/night sweats
More stable moods
Fewer sleep disruptions
Less vaginal dryness during sex
Some hot flashes subsided
Significant reduction in hot flashes
Less stiffness and joint pain
Increased muscle tone
Improved skin texture and moisture
Thicker, shinier hair
Better sleep quality
Resolution of sleep problems
Balanced mood - less irritability
Clearer thinking and focus
Reversal of weight gain
Restored libido and sexual satisfaction
An overall sense of wellbeing
While benefits accumulate over months, most women report feeling dramatically better within 6-8 weeks.
What About Side Effects?
Some women experience temporary side effects when first starting HRT while the body adjusts:
Breast tenderness or swelling
Redness/irritation at patch application sites
These symptoms usually resolve within 2-3 months. But let me know if they persist.
There is also a small risk of blood clots in the first year for some women taking oral estrogen. So be aware of any leg pain, redness, or swelling and report it promptly.
Otherwise, most women adjust without problems and enjoy the many benefits that make them feel like themselves again.
Long-term Effects: Weighing Benefits
Research shows hormone therapy has significant benefits when taken for up to 5-7 years:
Alleviates menopause symptoms
Reduces bone loss and risk of osteoporosis
Lowers LDL cholesterol
Protects metabolic health - improves insulin sensitivity
Reduces risk factors for heart disease
Preserves cognitive function and lowers dementia risk
Protects collagen and skin health
Maintains fitness, muscle strength, and endurance
Tips to Get the Most Out of HRT
Here are some suggestions to follow that will help you get optimal results:
Take hormones regularly - Try to stick to consistent times and never skip more than 1-2 days.
Don’t stop abruptly - Taper down dosage over several weeks when ending therapy to prevent symptoms from rebounding.
Use the lowest effective dose - I will adjust to meet your needs while minimizing risks.
Get follow-up blood tests: Monitoring your levels helps determine ideal dosing. So, please don't miss our appointments.
Report any side effects - Promptly notify me about any unusual symptoms.
Implement a healthy lifestyle - Nutritious eating, regular exercise, stress management, and good sleep hygiene will all enhance results.
Get your screenings - Have regular mammograms, lipid profiles, bone density tests, pelvic exams, etc. to monitor your health on HRT.
Consider adding testosterone: Testosterone therapy provides additional benefits for some women. We can discuss testosterone if I haven't already done so.
Take the Next Step for Your Improvement
Understanding what to expect will help you get started on the path to feeling your best again. Now that you have realistic information about hormone therapy, you can start your journey and have peace of mind about what’s ahead.
I hope this post helped you learn what to expect when starting hormone replacement therapy during symptoms of menopause. Don't hesitate to reach out with any other questions! I'm here to help support your hormone health and vitality.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician or another qualified medical professional. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.