Jenny Brunette Verner is a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner who works for Dr. Larry Gurley at The Menopause Center at Baptist Hospital. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham-Southern College and a Master in Science of Nursing from Vanderbilt University Nursing School. After graduation, Jenny worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital in high risk obstetrics for a year before returning to Nashville and her current position. Jenny is a native Nashvillian who is married and has a two-year-old daughter.

Q: What is hormone replacement therapy?

A. Hormone replacement therapy (or HRT) is a treatment option that uses medication to replace hormones your body once produced to relieve menopausal symptoms.  Women who have had a hysterectomy (uterus surgically removed) usually only take estrogen.  Women who still have an intact uterus must use estrogen plus progesterone to protect the lining of the uterus. Some women may also use testosterone therapy.

Q: How do I know if I need HRT and how long can I use it?

A. Each woman experiences menopause differently.  When symptoms of menopause are disruptive to quality of life it is appropriate to treat with HRT.  The length of time a woman uses HRT may vary.  However, using HRT for a long time or starting HRT beyond menopause is associated with higher risks.

Q: What HRT options are available?

A.There are many different delivery methods for HRT.  Options include: a pill taken by mouth, a patch, cream, gel or spray that can be applied to your skin, a hormone injection, or a cream, tablet or ring that can be used within the vagina.  There are also non hormonal treatments available for women who cannot use hormones or who chose not to.

Q: What are the risks of HRT?

A. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study reported increase risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots in women who used estrogen plus progesterone.  No increase risk of breast cancer or heart attack was found in the estrogen-only group, however stroke and blood clots were still risks.  The type of HRT, method and time of use may affect risk.