Commonly used forms of hormonal replacement therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms include oral forms taken as pills or trans-dermal forms directly applied to the skin. Often, the trans-dermal preparations are used in the form of patches which are applied to the skin once or twice weekly and slowly release the hormones into the bloodstream. There is also a less commonly used form, which is a gel that is rubbed onto the skin once daily.
Benefits of taking hormone replacement therapy include relief of symptoms of menopause along with a reduced risk for bone fracture. Studies in the past have indicated that negative side effects could include an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, clotting, and gallbladder disease. However, research found that when considering the risk for gallbladder disease, trans-dermal forms of hormone replacement are much less likely to cause the disease than the pill forms of the hormones. Pill forms of estrogen are metabolized by the liver before entering the bloodstream. The products are then excreted and could possibly be the reason for the increased risk for gallbladder disease in these forms. Trans-dermal forms of hormones are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin and have no contact with the liver. The transdermal form allows a lower dose to be used to provide the same benefit.
It may be beneficial to consider this form when you consider the decreased risk for gallbladder disease and possibly of other side effects.