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Women’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has greatly improved treatment options for women suffering from infertility and menopause-related osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, and vaginal atrophy. The contrivance of HRT transpired in the early 20th century, beginning with the discovery and isolation of well-known hormones estrogen and progesterone. These breakthroughs produced a flurry of new research and a budding, new branch of medicine. With its increasing popularity, HRT faced scrutiny and controversy. Research trials, beginning in the 1980s, began to reveal devastating side effects of estrogenic HRT such as increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer. In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) released its hormone therapy trials that once again showed an increased risk in these aforementioned side effects. This set of trials gained rapid publicity, and consequently, the use of HRT plummeted. In response to the growing fear of the public and infamy of HRT, more studies were performed that demonstrated the existence and verification of the “Timing Hypothesis”, which states that HRT will be less likely to cause increased risks of stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer depending on the period of time in which the patient begins HRT after menopause. This allowed for a better understanding of HRT and quelled fear regarding treatment. Rising HRT rates has allowed for the creation of HRT guidelines and for potential advancements within the field. Current researchers are studying the potential for selectively activated prodrugs, ovarian tissue transplant, and advanced use of plant-based tissues.

Publication Date



South Dakota State University

An Overview of Women’s Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)



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