What we mean by "hormone replacement therapy" or HRT

Using HRT consists of consuming substances that raise systemic or local levels of ovarian hormones. As far as we're concerned, anything that makes for effective hormone level enhancement in surgical menopause can be considered HRT, whether it comes from a pharmacy, a health food store, the supermarket or your local Superfund industrial contamination site. Some forms are more effective than others and some forms work better than others for different women, but if it walks like a hormone and quacks like a hormone, we prefer to consider it part of HRT.

There are a number of decisions that must be made when beginning HRT, and many more are required along the way to hormone balance and optimal health. Some of the preliminary decisions include which hormones to take, in which order they should be added to HRT, the route of HRT administration (which may be different for different hormones), the type of hormones (synthetic, human-identical, herbal/food), and the dose amount, frequency and timing. We'll look at each one of those in depth in the discussions here, as well as looking at specific hormone brands and formulations.

In many cases, the original HRT decisions are by default left up to the surgeon who performs our hyst. Many of us are too overwhelmed by contemplation of the surgery itself—not to mention, in many cases, too ill—to worry about what comes afterwards. Our surgeon may slap a patch on our butt in the OR or give us a hormone shot in the Recovery Room or hand us a prescription as we're discharged. No matter how it's actually done, the choosing is done by the doctor.

Now, this may be just fine, and that doc may be well versed in hormones and may make a wonderful choice for you right off the bat. On the other hand, that doc may have no more interest in HRT than what the latest drug rep who took him to lunch told him, and if you complain later you may be told that you need to see a psychiatrist. Or anything in between.

Our point is that this is an important decision between a broad range of choices and one that has long-term consequences for our health for the rest of our lives. It only makes sense that we should educate ourselves and actively participate in making and refining that decision. If you haven't been involved in that process up to now, read up and think about what you read. You may find that knowing more about hormones and HRT changes what you want to do and how you want to do it. And if your doctor rejects your participation or preferences, then just keep in mind that you were looking for a doctor when you found this one.