Side Effects of HRT

Like other drugs, HRT can have side effects. Side effects can vary depending on your body and the type of HRT being used.

What are the side effects of these medications?

Side effects are a part of every medication. Side effects can be unpleasant symptoms you might experience after taking a new medication. It is important to be aware of side effects when taking any new medication.

They can often disappear after a few days as your body adjusts to the medication. You should not be discouraged from trying the medication if there are side effects but it is important to be aware of these side effects before you begin. To ensure you are aware and informed about possible side effects, always read the label on any medication you take.

Even if you don't experience side effects that are not severe, it is worth keeping track of them to ensure they stop. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have severe side effects or if you feel that they are lasting longer than expected.

Side effects of HRT

Like other drugs, HRT can cause side effects. Side effects can vary depending on what HRT medication you're taking.

Generally, the side effects of HRT should disappear within 3 months. As your body adjusts, this is normal. It will usually take less than three months for most women. If you continue to experience side effects, you might need to adjust the HRT dose or form at your 3 Month Review.

Side effects of the main types of HRT

Estrogen HRT common side effects:

  • Bloating
  • The body may feel swollen
  • Breast tenderness, or breast swelling
  • Feeling sick
  • Leg ramming
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Vaginal bleeding

Progesterone HRT common side effects:

  • Tenderness to the breast
  • Parts of the body swelling
  • Low mood and mood swings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Acne

Vaginal estrogen HRT common side effects

This HRT is considered the least risky and invasive as it is only applied to the vaginal region. Side effects are usually more localized because the hormones are only absorbed into the local area. Side effects include:

  • Tenderness to the breast
  • Vaginal bleeding, increased vaginal discharge or spotting
  • Vaginal estrogen can cause irritation or itching. It usually improves after a few more weeks.
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain or feeling sick
  • Flu-like symptoms

You can try these things to help mitigate some of these side effects:

  1. Take your estrogen supplement with food to decrease the likelihood of stomach pain or indigestion.
  2. Regular exercise and stretching are good ways to reduce leg cramping.
  3. Eat a balanced diet, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption

A common misconception is that HRT can cause weight gain. HRT has not been proven to cause weight gain but women will often gain weight after menopause. This is not due to HRT, but hormonal fluctuations that cause a shift in the body's composition. Exercising regularly and monitoring your diet are the best ways to combat excess weight.

Beware of these side effects

These are all signs that you need to contact your GP immediately.

  • Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin or whitening of your eyes. These could be symptoms of liver disease.
  • An increase in blood pressure that is significant (symptoms include headaches, tiredness, and dizziness).
  • First time you experience migraine-like headaches
  • If you get pregnant
  • You should immediately seek medical attention if you feel any signs of a blood clot, such as reddening or painful skin, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and sudden swelling.

These side effects are not common after starting HRT. These side effects are not common and should be addressed immediately by a doctor.

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