January 25

What Are The Signs That You Need Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormones are chemicals produced by the body and control many of the bodily functions. These hormones include those like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The endocrine glands are what produce hormones and the major glands are the pituitary, pancreas, thyroid, pineal, thymus, and adrenal glands. Women naturally have an influx in hormones when they go through puberty, pregnancy, and menopause and men see changes when they also hit puberty and start to age. An imbalance in hormone levels can result in hormonal disorders and may require medical care to correct. One of the types of treatments available for symptoms indicating a hormonal issue is hormone replacement therapy.


  

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy 

As women age, their hormone levels change and in some cases, these levels dip to a point where these hormones may need to be replaced. Hormone replacement therapy is a type of medication that uses synthetic hormones to mimic female hormones. These hormones are created in a lab and come in several different forms to be administered to the body. Once these hormones have been put into the body, they should be absorbed and will act like the hormones naturally occurring in the body.  

Hormone replacements are available as: 

-Estrogen cream 

-Estrogen tablets 

-Estrogen skin patch 

-Estrogen lotion or gel that is applied to the skin 

-Estrogen rings that are placed inside the vagina 

-Progesterone cream that is applied to the skin 

-Estrogen-progesterone skin patch 

-Progesterone tablets 

Traditionally, hormone replacement therapy has been given to women, but it can be given to men who may have extremely low testosterone levels. HRT for men is also referred to as testosterone replacement therapy and can help to increase energy levels, boost libido, maintain bone density, and reduce fatigue. It can also aid in muscle strength, which can improve workouts, and stimulate the metabolism.   

If you are placed on hormone replacement therapy then your doctor may start you on the lowest dose that will be effective for the shortest time necessary to treat your symptoms. You will need to be reassessed on a regular basis to see if you still need HRT. 


Signs You Need Hormone Replacement Therapy 

While anyone of any age may experience issues with their hormones, women between the ages 44-55 who present menopausal symptoms are often the patients who receive hormone replacement therapy. Menopause is a natural, biological process that marks the specific time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and the body goes through changes in response. This menopausal transition can last for several years and the way it affects each individual varies depending on certain lifestyle factors. Signs that a woman’s hormone levels have dropped off due to menopause can be:  

-Decreased to zero sex drive or pain during sex 

-Trouble sleeping through the night 

-Weight gain, particularly in the stomach 

-Thinning hair 

-Low energy, lethargy, and fatigue 

-Dry skin 

-Decrease in muscle strength 

-Vaginal dryness 

-Brain fog, with a difficulty in concentrating throughout the day 

-Moodiness 

-Possible depression or anxiety  

-Hot flashes and night sweats  

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may be a candidate for hormone replacement therapy. Low levels of estrogen in women can put them at risk for osteoporosis, diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, and other health conditions that will require medical attention. HRT can be a treatment that prevents these conditions, along with treating the symptoms of menopause.  

As established, men may also need hormone replacement therapy. While men do not experience menopause or the loss of estrogen/progesterone, they do start to lose testosterone after around the age of 30.

Signs that a man’s hormone levels have started to drop off can look like the following: 

-Decreased to zero sex drive 

-Weight gain 

-Low energy, lethargy, and fatigue 

-Dry skin 

-Moodiness 

-Possible depression or anxiety 

-Decrease in muscle strength 

-Difficulty in getting and/or sustaining an erection 

-Brain fog, with difficulty in concentrating throughout the day 

-General feeling of sluggishness or irritability 


What Can Cause You to Need HRT 

The phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle will change throughout her life and hormone levels can decrease at any point. Women can experience symptoms related to hormone changes during these different phases. 

Perimenopause: These are the years that lead up to a woman ceasing to have a period. Some symptoms, such as hot flashes or night sweats, can already start during this time. Perimenopause tends to start in a woman’s early 40’s, typically at 45, and can last for about seven to fourteen years. During this time estrogen and progesterone start to fall, but not to the levels they will be at during menopause. Periods will continue, however they may become less frequent but it is still possible to become pregnant at this time. Each woman is affected differently and some may start to struggle with weight gain or have a harder time losing weight. Bone health may begin to change, as well. 

Menopause: It is not technically considered to be full-on menopause until twelve months after a person’s last menstrual cycle. When menopause has started it is no longer possible to become pregnant unless the person seeks medical assistance, and symptoms associated with menopause begin if they have not already. The average age for menopause to begin in women in the United States is 51, according to the North American Menopause Society. When menopause occurs, risks for certain conditions increase and estrogen/progesterone levels significantly drop off. Symptoms associated with menopause can range from mild to severe and may have a significant impact on a person’s daily life. HRT can restore these hormone levels to control these symptoms and restore daily functioning. It is also recommended that those going through menopause eat a balanced diet, where they also consume enough calcium to support bone health and exercise on a regular basis.  

Early Menopause: Perimenopause naturally occurs on its own, as the body ages and starts to prepare for menopause. Early menopause is different in that there is almost always something that triggers menopause to start earlier than it otherwise may have. Some situations that may trigger the onset of menopause early are smoking, certain autoimmune disorders, certain types of genetic disorders, cancers (for example ovarian cancer), and hysterectomies where either the uterus, cervix, ovaries, or fallopian tubes are removed. Some symptoms that early menopause is occurring can be changes in a person’s menstrual cycle, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and so on. Hormone replacement therapy may be used to address these issues. HRT can still be used to help prevent osteoporosis or heart disease in these cases. 


Who Should Not Have Hormone Replacement Therapy  

It is important to note that hormone replacement therapy may not be an appropriate treatment in certain cases. It is vital that you speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have and discuss why this may or may not be the right treatment for you. Hormone replacement therapy can help manage symptoms, but may not be an option if you: 

-Believe you may be pregnant 

-Have a history of blood clots 

-Have liver disease 

-Have a history of experiencing vaginal bleeding 

-Have a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or uterine cancer 

-Have high blood pressure and/or have had a stroke or heart attack 

Since hormone replacement therapy comes in so many different forms, you will also need to discuss the best option for your individual needs and preferences. The type of hormone(s) and the amount will be determined beforehand during an assessment of your symptoms and hormone levels. 


Don’t Forget to Check Us Out 

If you are interested in integrative medicine, which combines conventional medicine and holistic therapies, and healthcare that focuses on your individual needs call Shakthi Health and Wellness Center today! Dr. Jyothi Rao is a highly skilled and experienced physician who can effectively evaluate your symptoms and optimize your body’s vitality. Call (301) 703 – 5067 and speak to our concierge staff to schedule your appointment today 


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