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Hormone therapy (HT)

Hormone therapy (HT) is a general term for the use of man-made (synthetic) estrogen, with or without progestin, to treat symptoms caused by the changing hormone levels that occur before and after menopause. Hormone therapy carries some health risks, and its use should be discussed carefully with a health professional.

Hormone therapy includes:

  • Birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin. These can be used before menopause to treat perimenopausal symptoms and prevent pregnancy.
  • Estrogen and progestin are the form of hormone therapy (HT) most frequently used for treating menopausal symptoms in women who have a uterus. The dose of estrogen and progestin is less than in a birth control pill.
  • Estrogen therapy (ET), which refers to the use of estrogen without progestin. Most women who use ET have had their uterus removed (hysterectomy).

When taken after menopause, hormone therapy is also called hormone replacement therapy. But more experts are using the term "hormone therapy" (HT) to avoid the misleading message that women should have premenopausal levels ("replacement") of hormones after menopause.