Purpose: To provide an overview of current research regarding hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and to assist healthcare providers to better educate patients about potential benefits of this therapy.
Data sources: A systematic review of healthcare literature was conducted with 602 articles selected from CINAHL, Medscape, Pubmed, and Medline databases. Keywords directing the search included hormone replacement therapy, benefits of hormone replacement therapy and trends, hormone replacement therapy and osteoporosis, hormone replacement, and menopause symptoms.
Conclusions: According to the literature, HRT can assist women with postmenopausal symptoms. In addition, research shows that HRT can help some postmenopausal women with selected comorbid conditions such as osteoporosis, type II diabetes, certain cardiovascular pathologies, and colorectal cancer. The decision as to who should use any form of HRT needs to be based on the individual woman's needs, quality of life, and potential risks versus benefits.
Implications for practice: HRT has been a benefit to many women in the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms. Recent studies have shown that HRT, whether it is combined estrogen and progestin therapy, or estrogen-only therapy, can help postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and some selected comorbid conditions. Recent research indicates that some women are dying from comorbid conditions rather than breast cancer. Although the research regarding HRT in some areas may be limited, further research adds to existing knowledge and offers new ideas and possibilities in the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms and selected comorbid conditions. Certainly HRT can improve quality of life and possibly longevity for selected women. Ongoing research is needed to further validate such benefits, as well as to further explore the risks and benefits of long-term HRT. Increased knowledge about HRT will help healthcare providers better educate patients about the potential benefits of HRT, while providing documentation about who should take selected types of HRT or whether alternative treatment is preferred.