As we age, our hormones decrease. This is a natural part of the aging process and happens to everyone. However, these hormone deficiencies or imbalances can cause major changes to our mind and body.
Hormone replacement therapy can improve your quality of life by supporting you through hormonal changes and easing the transition of aging.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a customized and tailored approach to fit your body’s individual needs.
Gone are the days of mood swings, hot flashes, and fatigue as you watch life pass you by. Today’s treatment approach with hormone replacement therapy offers you back your health and vitality.
Signs You May Need Hormone Therapy
While many signs of hormone replacement therapy are consistent with traditional signs of aging, many of them can be decreased or even eliminated completely with the aid of hormone replacement therapy.
1. Menopause and Andropause Symptoms –For women, menopause wreaks havoc on hormones. This can come in a variety of forms with a whole host of symptoms including hot flashes, weight gain, and insomnia.
For men, they undergo a similar process called andropause. This can cause sexual dysfunction, changes in mood, and lower metabolism.
2. Hair Loss – Genetics account for most hair loss, but hormones play an important role as well. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the hormone responsible for supporting hair follicles, is a testosterone byproduct. A lack of testosterone may mean loss of hair in both men and women.
3. Mood Swings – This is perhaps one of the most common (and also neglected) symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
4. Low Libido/Sex Drive – Because hormones are responsible for libido, sex drive, performance, energy, and pleasure sensors, hormone imbalance can cause real intimacy problems for couples.
5. Insomnia – If you can’t seem to fall asleep or stay asleep, even simple day-to-day activities can seem like an impossible feat. Hormones play a huge role in allowing you to rest peacefully and stay asleep longer.
6. Discomfort During Intercourse – Women may experience pain during intercourse when their hormones are imbalanced. This may include vaginal symptoms such as itching, pain, dryness, discomfort, or vaginal bleeding.
7. Low Blood Counts – Those with low testosterone are at an increased risk of anemia. This can cause symptoms like dizziness, difficulty concentrating, leg cramping, problems sleeping, and rapid heart rate.
8. Decreased Bone and Muscle Mass – Testosterone helps to produce and strengthen the bone. Both men and women can experience decreased bone and muscle mass because of a hormone imbalance.
9. Increase in Body Fat – Men and women may both find it harder to stay in shape as they age. This is because the hormones that were responsible for metabolism and muscle growth are compromised, and the result is often an increase in body fat.
What Can Cause Hormone Problems?
The main cause of hormone imbalance is either aging or premature menopause transition due to surgical removal of the ovaries.
- Menopause – Menopause is the end of the reproductive years and the menstrual cycle, resulting in a change of estrogen produced inside the body.
- Surgical Removal of Ovaries – If you had your ovaries removed prior to the age of 45, you may not have enough estrogen to protect against important medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, and certain types of cancer including breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency – This is a medical condition where your ovaries lose their normal function.
- Primary Hypogonadism – This is a medical condition that can occur as a result of an injury to the testicle, undescended testicles, or Klinefelter syndrome that can cause testicular failure and lead to low testosterone.
- Secondary Hypogonadism – This is a testicular failure caused by a functional problem with either the pituitary or hypothalamus gland. It can be brought on by some specific disorders, type 2 diabetes, or certain medications.
Types of Hormone Replacement
There are four types of hormone replacement therapy that can help both men and women find and maintain a vital and energetic life well into their golden years:
1. Menopause/Estrogen Therapy
Estrogen replacement therapy comes in many forms and is important to maintain a woman’s healthy life. During menopausal hormone therapy, estrogen stores are depleted causing uncomfortable and often painful side effects for women.
Estrogen therapy is often recommended to treat symptoms of menopause and can be taken in many forms:
- Estrogen Pills – This is the most common form of hormone replacement therapy and can be taken along with a daily vitamin as part of your everyday routine to maintain your health.
- Patch – For those that prefer to avoid swallowing pills, a patch can be worn on the arm or leg that delivers a specific dose of estrogen into the body and is absorbed through the skin.
- Cream – There is also topical estrogen available that are generally applied once a day to the wrist, arm, or leg.
- Vaginal Cream – Particularly used to help combat vaginal dryness, burning, or pain, vaginal estrogen is applied directly into the vagina every 2-3 months.
2. Estrogen/Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy
This is referred to as combination hormone therapy because it combines several different hormones into one treatment plan.
Combined hormone therapy is designed specifically for women and may be able to help treat menopausal symptoms while reducing the risk of breast cancer.
- Oral Progestins – In pill form, natural progesterone or progestins (synthetic form) are a good choice to relieve menopausal symptoms.
- Intrauterine Progestin – This is more commonly known as an IUD and can help regulate the female hormones during perimenopause.
3. Andropause/Testosterone Replacement
Andropause is a typical problem for middle-aged men when their reproductive system is slowing down, and testosterone levels drop.
Testosterone replacement is the most common treatment designed to help men struggling with andropause or unnaturally low testosterone levels.
Testosterone replacement can dramatically improve their quality of life.
Because testosterone is such a vital hormone to both the physical and mental health of men, testosterone replacement therapy is available in several different delivery methods and is a popular form of hormone replacement therapy.
4. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Therapy
Our bodies naturally develop growth hormones that help us develop and thrive throughout our lives. When this hormone is depleted, it can affect our ability to stay healthy and increase health risks.
HGH therapy is used to increase muscle mass, reduce body fat, improve bone density, and increase your capacity to remain active.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy
There are several reasons why millions of Americans are choosing hormone replacement therapy. This treatment can increase your quality of life and protect your health as you age.
1. Healthy Heart – Testosterone helps with red blood cell production. When your testosterone levels are too low, this can lead to cardiovascular disease.
2. Less Fat, More Muscle – hormone replacement therapy can help the body to increase muscle size and strength while decreasing fat mass to help you stay stronger as you age.
3. Fights Early Menopause – Some women may experience early menopause before the age of 45. When this happens, you aren’t exposed to as much natural estrogen as your body needs.
Hormone replacement therapy will support your body as it changes and provides the necessary hormones needed to reduce complications of menopause and other menopause symptoms.
4. Stronger Bones – Your hormones (specifically testosterones) are responsible for your bone mineral density. A decrease in testosterone makes you susceptible to weak bones and osteoporosis.
5. Better Brain Health – Brain fog and trouble concentrating are very real consequences of a hormone imbalance.
Testosterone is important to brain health and has been shown to improve verbal memory, spatial abilities, and mathematical reasoning in men between 34-70 years old. HRT can help protect your brain from premature aging.
6. Better Libido – Because our hormones are responsible for our sex drive and pleasure sensors, you can enjoy better sexual activities with your partner with hormone replacement therapy.
7. Improved Mood – A hormone imbalance can cause severe mood swings. HRT can improve common issues including depression, fatigue, and irritability.
8. Protects Your Colon – Some studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
9. Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes – Those who begin hormone replacement therapy before the age of 60 may have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes than those who use no form of hormone therapy.
Side Effects Involved in Hormone Therapy
Hormonal replacement therapy is often used to prevent or block hormones from speeding up the growth of cancer cells.
Because the human body is intricately complicated, when you reduce or block the hormone it can cause other changes.
This may cause additional side effects of HRT.
- Hot Flashes – This is common for both men and women and causes a very uncomfortable sensation of heat and night sweats across the body. For some, this only lasts a few moments. For others, hot flashes can last a few hours.
- Changes in Sex Life – Hormone therapy can affect your sex life in different ways. For some, their libido and sexual pleasure increase. For others, hormone therapy can cause erection problems, changes to orgasm, and lower libido.
- Weight Gain – Particularly men may gain weight during HRT, which can be difficult particularly if they have never had problems with their weight in the past. There is no evidence to suggest that women are more likely to gain weight due to HRT.
- Memory and Concentration Problems – It’s difficult to say whether memory and concentration changes are directly correlated to HRT or simply aging. However, brain fog is a very real symptom that many who are in hormone therapy struggle with.
- Breast Swelling and Tenderness – This can be true for both men and women when levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body change.
- Headaches – For headaches associated with HRT, usually a simple over-the-counter painkiller is enough. If you experience more severe headaches, you may want to talk to your doctor to adjust your regimen.
- Mood Swings and Depression – While some forms of hormone replacement therapy can actually improve mood swings and depression, in some patients these symptoms can also get worse.
- Blood Clots – This is a very rare side effect and generally only affects those who are already susceptible to blood clots, or who have had clots in the past.
- Nausea and Vomiting – Although rare, some women may experience nausea and vomiting due to the changes in hormones.
- Constipation and Diarrhea – Digestive issues can occur for both men and women depending on how the body reacts to the changes in hormone levels. If this occurs, it should be mild and subside rather quickly.
Facts You Should Know About Hormone Therapy
When considering hormone replacement therapy, there are a few basic facts you should understand about what the treatment involves and how it changes your body.
- Hormone therapy in men can reduce your risk of cancer by either stopping your body from making testosterone, or by stopping testosterone from reaching the cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy on its own won’t cure prostate cancer. If you have hormone replacement therapy on its own, the treatment will aim to control your cancer and delay or manage any symptoms.
- Estrogen therapy is the most highly effective prescription medication to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep resulting from hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
- The use of estrogen without progesterone (progestin), is associated with an increase in the risk of uterine or endometrial cancer. However, estrogen therapy combined with progesterone substantially reduces the risk of uterine cancer to comparable levels of women who are not using hormone replacement therapy at all.
FAQs About Hormone Therapy