Hormones are a vital communication method our body uses for important functions. As we age, our hormones decrease and create a myriad of irregular symptoms within the body.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one way to replace those hormones and regulate many body functions important to maintaining our health.
There are many different types of hormone replacement therapy available for both men and women but looks differently for each gender based on the needs and functions of the body.
Types of Hormone Therapy for Men
As we age, our hormones change. For men, this generally means lower levels of testosterone, less energy, decreased muscle mass, weight gain, and a lower sex drive.
There are two main types of hormone replacement therapy options available for men that can be adjusted, customized, and tailored to your specific need.
This can affect both your health and your quality of life.
- Testosterone Replacement – Testosterone is an important contributor to combating fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and increasing your sex drive. Men with low testosterone may benefit from a variety of testosterone products.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Therapy – This hormone is created naturally by our body. When you’re lacking the necessary human growth hormone, these types of hormone replacement therapy can be used to treat several medical conditions by increasing muscle mass, improving bone density, and reducing body fat.
These two types of hormone replacement therapy can be used, combined, and applied to the body in several different ways:
- Injections – Certain types of hormone therapy can be either self or doctor administered through a muscle injection every few weeks.
- Gels/Solutions – Hormone therapy can be applied to the upper arm, shoulder, inner thigh, armpit through a gel solution that is absorbed completely into the skin.
- Patches – Patches are a common way to deliver hormone therapy on a daily basis. These patches adhere comfortably to the skin on the back, abdomen, upper arm, or thigh and deliver the necessary hormones through the skin.
- Buccal Tablet – Also known as “sticky pills” these are applied to the gums twice a day and absorbed quickly through the gums into the bloodstream.
- Testosterone Implant or Pellets – These types of hormone replacement therapy are surgical implant under the skin that provides consistent long-term doses for 3–6 months.
- Nasal Gel – Some types of hormone therapy can also be taken through a nasal gel pumped into each nostril 3x per day.
Types of Hormone Therapy for Women
One of the most common menopause symptoms is a drop in estrogen. Sometimes this can cause uncomfortable severe symptoms for women throughout these aging years.
- Estrogen Therapy – These types of hormone replacement therapy are designed to replace the lost estrogen in your body. This can take many different forms. It can be customized and tailored depending on your health, your specific symptoms, and personal preferences.
- Estrogen Pill – A daily pill is the most common treatment for estrogen replacement therapy. Most pill therapies are taken just once a day without food.
- Estrogen Patch – A patch is administered through the skin and replaced every few days.
- Topical Estrogen – In some cases, a cream, ointment, or spray is applied to the arms or legs, absorbed into the skin, and directed into the bloodstream.
- Vaginal Estrogen – If you’re experiencing vaginal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itch, or pain, menopausal hormone therapy applied directly to the vagina may be the best option. Vaginal estrogen may be applied in the form of a cream, vaginal ring, or vaginal tablet.
- Estrogen/Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy – If you still have a uterus, your estrogen therapy will be combined hormone therapy with Progesterone. Women who have had their uterus removed cannot get endometrial cancer.
- Oral Progestins – This type of progestin hormone is taken orally once a day.
- Intrauterine Progestin – In some cases, the best way to apply progesterone is internally directly into the uterus.
- Tibolone – These are synthetic types of hormone replacement therapy taken orally and combine estrogen, progestogen, and testosterone to treat menopause symptoms. This can be particularly for bone loss and low sex drive.
- Cyclical or Sequential HRT – If you are having menopausal symptoms but are also still experiencing a menstrual cycle, cyclical HRT is the best option. This is a method of hormone replacement therapy that is taken in alignment with your period.
- Continuous HRT – After menopause, your doctor may prescribe continuous combination types of hormone replacement therapy that provide the daily dose of necessary hormones to keep your body functioning as it should.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Treatment
Hormone replacement therapy can be a life-changing turning point for many aging adults.
To get the most out of your treatment, it’s important to discuss your types of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor and keep the following in mind:
- Keep Your Appointments – It’s important to make and keep regular appointments with your doctor so he or she can check on your progress along the way and notice when changes need to be made.
- Talk to Your Doctor – You need to be open with your doctor about HRT especially if you are having surgery. You may be advised to stop the treatment for a while if you are likely to be on bed rest.
- Follow the Instructions – It’s important to never take more than your prescribed dose or share your prescriptions with others.
- Travel Carefully – While using hormone replacement therapy, long periods of immobility like several hours on a plane or in a car can increase the risk of serious side effects like blood clots. When traveling, you may want to take frequent breaks to exercise or wear elastic hosiery to reduce the risk.
- Practice Safe Sex – If you’re still having a period, you could still become pregnant and hormone replacement therapy should not be used until one year after your last period.
- Keep Costs in Mind – While some types of hormone replacement therapy prescriptions may be covered by insurance, if your pack contains more than one type of tablet, you may need to pay two prescription charges.
- Watch Your Blood Sugar – Hormone replacement therapy can affect the levels of sugar in your blood. If you have diabetes you may need to test your blood more frequently.
- Avoid Interactions – Always check with your pharmacist when taking additional medicines to ensure they are safe for you to take alongside HRT.
FAQs About Hormone Treatment Methods