Before prescribing estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of the two, your doctor or gynecologist will give you a complete medical and gynecological exam. This will include a blood test to check your cholesterol level, a breast exam, which may include a mammography, and a Pap smear.
If you’ve had a hysterectomy and you opt for ERT, you will be treated with estrogen alone; if your uterus is intact, you will be given estrogen, possibly combined with some progesterone. For example, you may take estrogen on days 1 to 25 and progesterone on days 13 to 25. In some cases, your doctor might prescribe a continuous program of estrogen with progesterone, especially if the side effects caused by taking estrogen alone are severe.
Although some women feel they should accept whatever their bodies dish out, there are others who want to be physically comfortable with the changes that occur during menopause. Because of the side effects, the decision to start ERT should not be taken lightly. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before you start.