Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the declining hormones in a woman’s body as she approaches menopause. After a certain age or due to several reasons, women go through menopause, which is normal and expected. However, some of its symptoms can be bothersome and need to be controlled. Hence, HRT is recommended to relieve symptoms of menopause and replace hormones that the body is no longer producing.
Although there are a variety of HRT options, such as patches, pills, gel, and suppositories, the right treatment depends on a woman’s personal choice, health, symptoms, and other factors.
This blog focuses on two of the most commonly-used options, i.e., HRT Patches or Tablets.
What Are HRT Patches?
They are skin patches to treat menopause that often causes female hormones to drop gradually. It is a common way of taking HRT where women place a small plastic adhesive patch on their lower stomach beneath the waistline or upper buttocks. As the skin slowly absorbs hormones on the patch, hormone levels fluctuate less. The patch mitigates the risks of blood clots and must be changed once or twice a week. Some common HRT patches are Estradot, Evorel Patches, Evorel Conti, and Evorel Sequi. You can either get oestrogen-only or combined patches that contain oestrogen and progesterone.
Working of HRT Patches
Every HRT patch has a fixed dose of hormones, which is absorbed through the skin into your bloodstream. These doses are released slowly to avoid the chances of blood clots. Make sure to stick the patch below the waistline and change it once or twice weekly.
- It is convenient to use
- Non-invasive and discreet
- Stick the patch for a few days without worrying about taking tablets every day
- Safe for people with liver problems
- Can be used in a shower or while exercising
- Women with migraines can also use patches
- Available in different strengths so you can adjust doses
- Can cause skin irritation
- Easy to forget to change the patch every few days
- Can fall off if not applied correctly
- A few milder side effects.
What Are HRT Tablets?
Women also take tablets to replace hormones during menopause. It is the simplest and traditional way of taking replacement hormones. Although HRT tablets must be taken once a day, some may have complex dosage schedules. You can find both oestrogen and combined HRT tablets in a pharmacy store. Some common HRT tablets are Elleste Duet, Elleste Solo, etc.
- The easiest way to resolve troublesome menopause symptoms
- Low risk of osteoporosis
- The best-studied HRT treatment
- HRT tablets increase the chances of blood clots
- Not suitable for people with liver problems
HRT Patches or Tablets: What to Choose?
There is a constant debate about the best treatment of menopause. We can compare the pros and cons of patches and tablets but honestly, there is no significant difference between the two. With a few exceptions, both of them work the same way and are equally convenient. Hence, the ultimate choice depends on the woman taking the treatment and her preference.
However, for better guidance, we have highlighted a few important aspects below:
In comparison to menopause tablets, benefits of HRT patches include:
- They are easier to use. You simply have to apply one and leave it for a few days whereas tablets must be taken every day.
- They interact less with other medicines called enzyme inducers, which include antibiotics and antiepileptics.
- They have fewer side effects.
- Eliminates the risks of blood clots or stroke when taken at the prescribed dose.
- Oestrogen-only patches do not affect sex drive.
In comparison to menopause patches, tablets are more beneficial as:
- Some women may feel skin irritation where they apply the patch.
- If not applied correctly, the patch may come off.
- It is difficult to keep the patch intact in a humid climate or while exercising.
- If the patch falls off frequently, the skin may not absorb hormones.
- Patches increase the cholesterol level, hence, women prefer tablets.
Are There Other Ways of Taking HRT?
Apart from menopause patches or tablets, HRT also includes other ways to control symptoms of menopause. We have listed them below but make sure to discuss with our medical experts at Medsnow about the pros and cons of each of them.
Oestrogen gel is gradually gaining attention for HRT, mainly because of its ease of use. Women just need to rub the gel on their skin once every day. As the skin absorbs the gel gradually, it avoids the chances of blood clots. However, it is available only in the form of oestrogen so if you still have your womb, you would need to take progesterone separately to eliminate the risks of womb cancer. Also, it can cause redness or irritation on the skin.
This is usually recommended when other forms of HRT don’t work successfully. Some women also opt for this when they don’t want to take menopause treatment every day or every few days. Here, small pallet-like implants are inserted under the skin, mostly in the stomach area, which gradually release oestrogen that lasts for several months.
There are slight chances of getting an infection from this HRT procedure. Moreover, implants need to be replaced every few months, which can be troublesome and have side effects. HRT implants come in the form of oestrogen so you will need to take progestogen separately.
Women also have an option to use a pessary, cream, or ring to release oestrogen, which is placed inside the vagina. Although this method helps them relieve vaginal dryness, it doesn’t mitigate other symptoms, such as hot flashes. As there are no risks of breast cancer and other HRT treatments, women don’t need to take progestogen, even if they still have the womb.
Patches vs Others
HRT gel needs at least 5 minutes to get dry and you may have to wait for minimum of 1 hour before your skin can contact with another person. However, this is not the case with HRT patches, where you simply need to stick them and it’s done. Also, because they are less invasive, patches are more convenient to use than pessaries and vaginal creams.
Every hormone replacement therapy has its benefits and drawbacks so it is finally up to the woman going for the treatment. She must consider what is most comfortable to her and what she can continue to use for longer. Although patches are gaining tremendous popularity for their ease of use and risk-free benefits, but ultimately it’s to each her own.