For Patients

I am a woman considering hormone replacement therapy.

What do I need to know?

The risk for developing a blood clot increases if you are on hormone replacement therapy.  If you are either on or considering hormone replacement therapy, there are some things you will want to know about blood clots.

1. Family history of clotting

Know whether members of your family have experienced blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism).  If you do have a family history of clots,  tell your doctor as hormone replacement may not be the right option for you.

doctor image2. Evaluate the need for hormone replacement

Be clear in your mind whether you really need hormone replacement.  Current data suggests the prevention of mood swings can be a good reason to consider hormone replacement.  The prevention of weakening of the bones (osteoporosis) can be a questionable reason.  The prevention of heart disease is usually not a strong reason. Discuss with your doctor fully the reasons why you need hormone replacement therapy.

3.  Surgery

If you have surgery, be sure to tell your surgeon that you are on hormone replacement.

4. Be aware of leg or chest symptoms that could indicate a clot

Hormone replacement therapy increases clot risk.  Be particularly aware of leg or chest and lung symptoms that could indicate a blood clot.  If you suspect a clot, get medical attention immediately. 

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): 

A clot that typically is in one leg (can also occur in unusual sites, such as veins in the arm, abdomen or around the brain). Symptoms range from mild to severe; may involve the foot, ankle, calf, whole leg or arm. The classic symptoms are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration (bluish or reddish)
  • Warmth


Pulmonary Embolism (PE):

A blood clot in the lungs. Classic symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (may be worse with deep breath)
  • Unexplained cough (may cough up blood)
  • Unexplained rapid heart rate

 If you suspect a clot, get medical attention right away.  Do not delay.