What is hormone therapy (HT)?

Hormone therapy (HT) is the use of synthetic hormones to replace hormones made naturally in the body. Your doctor may prescribe hormone therapy either to replace hormones that your body is no longer producing or to counteract the effects of hormones that your body is producing.

For example, during and after menopause the amount of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that a woman's body produces decreases dramatically, causing symptoms including hot flashes, decreased sexual desire, vaginal dryness, mood swings and problems sleeping. Taking synthetic versions of estrogen, progesterone (in women who have not had their uterus surgically removed) and/or testosterone, can help to minimize or eliminate these symptoms.

People who have underactive thyroid glands (hypothyroidism) may be prescribed a synthetic version of thyroid hormone to compensate for the hormones not being produced by their thyroid gland.

Hormone therapy can also be used to counteract the negative effects of hormones that are still being produced in the body. For example, in women who have been diagnosed with estrogen-receptive breast cancer, taking the medication tamoxifen can block the effects of estrogen on breast tissue, reducing risk of breast cancer recurrence. Similarly some men who are fighting prostate cancer are treated with hormones to block the effects of testosteroneand dihydrotestosterone.

Continue Learning about Endocrine System

Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.