If you need hormone replacement therapy (HRT), our online service allows you to get prescribed treatment, easily and quickly. You can also get tested for menopause by requesting a home menopause test kit.
You can find out more about HRT below, or create a free online account to message one of our doctors.
Why choose us?
- Your HRT order will be reviewed by a doctor, to make sure it is the correct treatment
- Discreet service, with no need to leave your home to get a prescription
- Collect your treatment from your local Asda pharmacy or get free home delivery
- Get free aftercare from your doctor with an online account
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About Menopause Testing and HRT
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT, is a treatment for women to relieve the common symptoms of menopause. It can replace hormones during menopause and in the time before the menopause (the perimenopause), when your hormone levels decrease. Menopause is a natural part of aging and is when a woman stops having periods. It happens because your ovaries stop producing as much oestrogen, which is a hormone. This means you no longer release an egg every month.
You will either take oestrogen on its own, or combined with progesterone. Oestrogen and progesterone will treat the symptoms of menopause, while progesterone alone can help the uterus lining to stay thin, which will prevent cancer in the uterus. You may take this as a tablet, or as a topical treatment. Topical oestrogens like ovestin, oestrogel, vagirux, and vagifem are all applied inside the vagina. Ovestin and oestrogel are creams, whilst vagirux and vagifem are vaginal tablets.
This type of treatment involves taking only one hormone, oestrogen. Oestrogen-only treatment is recommended for women who have had their womb removed, during a hysterectomy. You can get oestrogen in many forms, including tablet, gel, and implant.
Topical oestrogen creams and tablets are applied into the vagina and are used to help with vagina dryness symptoms which can affect a lot of women in the menopause. This type of oestrogen-only HRT only works on the vagina area, so does not help with the other symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes. But, this also means that it does not have the same risks of HRT and can be used if you still have a womb.
Combined treatment is for women who still have a womb and involves taking oestrogen and progestogen. Combined HRT is available in tablet form and skin patches. Depending on whether you are still having periods, and when your last period was, you will take this type of HRT in different ways.
If you still have periods, or your last period was in the last year, you should use Cyclical HRT. This is where you use oestrogen every day, and progestogen for just the last 2 weeks of the month.
If your periods stopped more than 12 months ago, you should use Continuous HRT. This means using oestrogen and progestogen every day continuously.
You should speak to your doctor before starting HRT to make sure it is suitable for you. You can start taking HRT as soon as you get menopausal symptoms. We also offer a menopause test, to see if you are in the menopausal stages.
Once your menopause symptoms pass, usually within a few years, you can stop taking HRT. There is not a time limit on this, but you should check in with your doctor at least once a year to make sure that it is still safe for you to keep using it. When you do choose to stop, you can do this suddenly or slowly, depending on how you feel. Usually, if you stop taking it slowly, there is less chance of your symptoms coming back.
This stage is usually around 3 to 5 years before menopause and is where your progesterone and oestrogen levels begin to drop. You may get irregular periods and other common symptoms. Every woman is different and some may get more symptoms than others. You may still get pregnant during this time, as you have not yet entered menopause.
The menopause is when you have your last period. The average age this happens in the UK is 51, but most women will reach this between the ages of 45 and 55.
Since periods can be irregular in perimenopause, it can be difficult to know when your last period is, so you are said to be post-menopausal when you have not had a period for one year. After this, you will be post-menopausal for the rest of your life. When you are post-menopausal vaginal bleeding is not normal, so speak to your doctor right away if you get any bleeding.
There are some common symptoms of menopause, which can help you to tell when you are in menopause.
- reduced libido (sex drive)
- hot flushes
- vaginal dryness
- discomfort when having sex
- night sweats
- low mood
- trouble sleeping
- problems with concentration or memory
- weight gain
During peri-menopause, you may get irregular periods, spotting, or your periods may be lighter than normal. Symptoms can happen years or months before your periods become irregular and stop, and may last for around 4 years after menopause. Some women get symptoms for much longer.
For most women, the symptoms and change in periods can give a good idea if you are in the menopause without taking a test. Our menopause test works by testing how much FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is in your blood. This test alone cannot tell you if you are in the menopause. But, our doctors will be able to give you more advice based on the test result, when your last period was, and how old you are.
A menopause test may be useful if you are 40 to 45 years old and have menopausal symptoms. It can also be useful if you are over 50 years old and using progestogen-only contraception (like the mini-pill, the Mirena coil, or the implant) and you are not having periods. It can help to work out when you can stop using this contraception.
If you are using the combined pill, HRT, or other hormone treatments with oestrogen and progestogen together, the menopause test is not recommended. This is because all these treatments can change hormone levels.
If you have had a period in the last 12 months and are having symptoms, the test might give an indication if you are in the perimenopause, but it is less accurate in this time. This is because during the peri-menopause the hormone levels can change a lot from day to day. The test result cannot tell you when you will stop having periods.
The kit is easy to use and includes a lancet, so you can take a blood sample from your finger. The blood should go into the sample tube provided and can be sent to a lab. Your results will be available through your online account. If you still have periods, do this on the third day of your period.
As with most medications, HRT may cause some side effects. Most of these will go away within the first 3 months of getting treated.
Common side effects of HRT include:
- nausea (feeling sick)
- tender breasts
- vaginal bleeding
- stomach pains
- leg cramps
If your symptoms last longer than 3 months or are severe, speak to your doctor. To help with these side effects, try taking your HRT with food, if you are taking it in tablet form. Eating a low-fat diet can help with breast tenderness and regular stretching can help with leg cramps. Some women may gain weight whilst taking HRT but this is likely to be a symptom of menopause, rather than HRT.
HRT is a suitable treatment for most women going through menopause. It may not be the right treatment for you if you have:
- a history of blood clots
- a history of womb, ovarian, or breast cancer
- liver disease
- had a heart attack or angina recently
- untreated high blood pressure, as your blood pressure must be within normal limits before starting certain types of HRT
You should not use HRT if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There are some risks of taking HRT but for most women the benefits outweigh the risks. There is an increased risk of having a stroke (a very small risk for women under 60 years old) and breast cancer, but this will depend on how long you are taking it for. The risk will also drop again after you stop taking HRT. For women who take tablets, rather than gels or patches, there is also a very small risk of blood clots.
You might not be able to use HRT if you are using certain medications. Make sure you let your doctor know if you are using any regular medications.
If you are not able to take HRT, or you are worried about the risks, there are other alternatives. You can help to control your menopausal symptoms by making some lifestyle changes.
- doing regular exercise
- cutting down on spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine
- reducing your stress levels
- using lubricant or moisturiser for vaginal dryness
- stopping smoking
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- keeping cool at night to reduce night sweats
Some women use natural remedies alongside HRT, or on its own, to help with symptoms. Some remedies, such as St John’s wort, have been known to help with hot flushes but there is not much scientific evidence behind natural remedies.
There are also some other medical alternatives to HRT, if HRT is not right for you:
- Tibolone: This is a prescription medicine similar to combined HRT. It can help with symptoms of menopause and can only be used for women in post-menopause.
- Clonidine: This is a prescription medicine taken 2 to 3 times a day. It can help with night sweats and hot flushes in menopause. It does not change the hormone levels like HRT does.
- Antidepressants: Some antidepressants can be used to help with hot flushes that are caused by menopause. This is something your doctor will discuss with you if other forms of treatment are not suitable.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 31 Aug 2021
Last reviewed: 31 Aug 2021
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (2019) NHS (accessed 12 August 2021)
Hysterectomy (2019) NHS (accessed 12 August 2021)
Menopause (2018) NHS (accessed 12 August 2021)
Progesterone in Peri- and Postmenopause: A Review (2014) NCBI (accessed 12 August 2021)
St. John's wort (2021) Drugs.com (accessed 12 August 2021)