Hormone replacement therapy – those three words often lead people to think about estrogen treatment for menopausal women. However, there is far more to HRT than stopping hot flashes and night sweats. All adults, women and men, can suffer from hormonal imbalance – or multiple hormone imbalances. The use of HRT in adults can reverse the symptoms associated with hormonal decline and restore the body to a state of homeostasis. In this review, we examine the most common types of HRT for men and women, their uses, benefits, risks, and side effects.
Hormone replacement treatment is not something to purchase from the neighborhood vitamin or drug store. Although some forms of HRT, such as DHEA, can be found on store shelves, the only way to know the appropriate treatment for your body is through a proper medical diagnosis. For that, the best doctor to contact is one that specializes in hormone replacement therapy. The field of endocrinology is the study of the body’s hormones, so selecting a hormone clinic or endocrinologist is the best course of action.
HRT provides the bioidentical hormones necessary to return the body’s natural hormone levels to a state of balance. It comes in many forms, depending on the type of treatment prescribed by the doctor.
The purpose of HRT is to restore hormone levels to a state of abundance – the level they were in earlier in adulthood before they started to decline. Hormone replacement therapy accomplishes that goal through the use of bioidentical hormones. The word bioidentical applies to all hormone medications that have the same molecular structure as the hormone they are replacing.
Some hormones are synthetic. They have alterations in structure from the natural hormones. They cannot be utilized in their current state, requiring some form of chemical action inside the body to prepare them for use. Synthetic hormones also carry a higher risk of side effects than bioidentical hormones.
All approved forms of HRT in adults are legal for use once prescribed by a doctor. Blood analysis is the only proven way to measure hormone levels. Women and men must undergo a physical examination clearing them for hormone treatment.
Most Common Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The most common types of hormone replacement therapy in use today include:
- Human growth hormone – HGH
- Estrogen and progesterone
Depending on the type of HRT in adults that the doctor prescribes, treatment can take one of the following forms:
- Skin patches
- Topical creams
- Transdermal gels
- Nasal gels
- Oral adhesive tablets
- Oral pills
- Vaginal preparations
- Implantable pellets
Definition of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Adults
The definition of HRT in adults is the replacement of natural hormones when the body no longer produces enough of a supply. HRT is a complex therapy because most hormones tend to influence the secretion or function of others. When boosting one hormone, the doctor must take considerable care in ensuring that other hormone levels do not then go out of balance.
During the use of hormone replacement therapy, adults regularly report on their process to the hormone clinic. That serves a dual purpose – ensuring that the treatment is proceeding as planned and that there are no unusual side effects.
Indications for HRT Use: Symptoms and Conditions in Different Age
Hormone replacement therapy has multiple indications for use, depending on a person’s age and the type of treatment. We examine the various stages of life and the indications for using HRT in adults during these times:
By the time most adults enter their thirties, hormones such as HGH and testosterone have already begun to decline. These are hormones that affect both men and women. Although most people will not need one of these treatments at such an early stage, there are times when they are beneficial.
Both HGH and testosterone influence brain functions, lean body mass, bone density, libido and sexual functions, metabolism, heart health, sleep, energy, mood, and blood cell production. HGH also supports cell regeneration, immunity, and temperature regulation. Adults suffering from symptoms of decline in any of these areas should undergo testing for these deficiencies.
Another reason for HRT at this early an age is fertility help. Testosterone decline can interfere with both male and female fertility. However, testosterone therapy can only help improve female fertility. Men with a low sperm count can see it go even lower with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Instead, they may do better with HCG or Clomid treatments. Women may also benefit from estrogen or progesterone in addition to testosterone for fertility. Sometimes, DHEA, a precursor hormone to testosterone, can help improve testosterone levels.
Estrogen and progestin (the synthetic form of progesterone) are also used for birth control.
Some women may undergo a hysterectomy and oophorectomy, leading to the removal of their uterus and ovaries. That can start what is termed “surgical menopause.” The rapid onset of menopause can lead to weight gain, increased cardiovascular risk, and osteoporosis. The standard treatment for menopause in women is estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Estrogen is safe for many women, but not all. When used with progestin, risk factors increase significantly. However, the bioidentical progesterone used by hormone specialists does not carry the same risks.
Some women may also be growth hormone or testosterone deficient at this time. Treatment with HGH or TRT can help reduce menopausal symptoms. In men over age 40, testosterone and growth hormone decline can also lead to the onset of symptoms. The hormone doctor will measure these levels to detect if a deficiency is present to provide the appropriate treatment.
Getting HRT at this age is crucial if a hormonal imbalance is present. There are many years of life left, and any declining hormone levels will only worsen if no action is taken. Early warning signs of hormonal imbalance at this stage include:
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Sexual decline
- Stress, anxiety, and irritability
- Greying or thinning of the hair
- More wrinkles
The fifties are a time when many people start to notice signs of hormonal imbalance. After 50, hormonal imbalance can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, depression, and more.
HGH and testosterone requirements increase during this decade as these hormone levels continue to decline. Some women may also use estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of various treatments for their menopausal symptoms. Men may receive multiple therapies, as well. The doctor may recommend DHEA for some people. Treatments such as sermorelin and ipamorelin may help increase natural GH production for some adults.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned before, bone and muscle loss, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure levels are possible.
Doctors often recommend that many women stop ERT after 60 years of age. There is a limit to what is considered safe. However, treatments such as HGH and testosterone can continue indefinitely.
Even after 65 years of age, men and women are not too old to start HRT. The doctor will determine the appropriate treatment and dosage. Starting with lower dosages and increasing it in increments allows the older body time to adjust to higher hormone levels. That also helps reduce the risk of unwanted side effects from HRT.
Quality of life and health issues often arise for people suffering from hormone deficiency at this time.
Contraindications for Hormonal Therapy
Although each type of hormone replacement therapy mentioned is safe when used as needed and prescribed, there are times when HT is not recommended. Depending on the type, HRT in adults is contraindicated in cases such as:
- Active cancer
- Liver or kidney problems
- Stroke or heart attack risk
- Blood clot concerns
- Allergies to the ingredients in HRT
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Severe breathing problems
- Acute critical illness resulting from open heart or abdominal surgery complications
Risks and Side Effects of HRT
Hormone replacement therapy is also not without risks. Side effects of treatment are possible, especially if hormone levels get too high. Some forms of HRT, such as the estrogen/progestin combination, increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots, while others do not. Bioidentical hormones are generally considered a safer alternative than synthetic hormones.
Specific side effects of the most common forms of HRT in adults include the following:
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy
- Adult acne
- Oily skin
- Changes in mood
- Male breast enlargement
- Testicular shrinkage
- Infertility (male)
- Worsening of sleep apnea
- Urinary changes
- Back or joint pain
- Fluid retention
- Changes in hair growth
- Female vocal deepening
- Human Growth Hormone Therapy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- Estrogen Replacement Therapy
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leg cramps
- Mood changes
Benefits and Results of HRT Treatment
The primary benefit of using HRT in adults is that of reversing and reducing the symptoms associated with the particular form of hormone deficiency or imbalance. Depending on the type of hormone replacement therapy, benefits may include the following:
- Better sleep
- Weight loss
- More energy
- Improved sex drive and performance
- Stronger muscles and bones
- More youthful appearance – decreased wrinkles and skin sagging
- Better hair growth
- Reduced hot flashes and night sweats
- Sharper brain functions and memory
- Decreased feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress
- Better sense of humor
- Happier mood
- Improved sociability
- Stronger immune system
- Increased cell regeneration and blood cell formation
- Better heart health
- Enhanced insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake
The Approximate Cost of Prescription Hormone Replacement Therapy
The cost of hormone replacement therapy can vary significantly, from full coverage by one’s insurance company to well over $2,000 per month for treatments that are excluded from coverage. It is impossible to quote all prescription prices for every type and brand of HRT here. Our hormone clinic strives to provide all men and women with affordable options for HRT in adults.
Please do not attempt to purchase hormones online from unregulated sources to save money. Not only is that action illegal, but it is also dangerous and may result in the receipt and use of unsafe products.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men In Our Clinic
Male hormone replacement therapy is changing lives. Whether the need is for testosterone treatment or HGH injections, we can help. Some men who have low growth hormone levels may also do better with ipamorelin or sermorelin therapy. Not only are those treatments lower in cost, but they also have reduced side effects risks. Ipamorelin and sermorelin work by increasing natural growth hormone production rather than immediately boosting GH levels. These treatments are best for those who do not yet exhibit severe symptoms of growth hormone deficiency.
The most common and recommended form of testosterone for men is testosterone cypionate injections. Not only are they the lowest priced of all types of TRT, but they also provide the fastest results. Our doctors run comprehensive blood tests before prescribing any form of HRT in adults.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women In Our Clinic
Female hormone replacement therapy takes on many forms. Today, many women want to avoid the use of estrogen therapies. Both testosterone and HGH treatments help reduce menopausal symptoms.
It is essential to run diagnostic blood tests to determine which of a woman’s hormone levels are low. Since the body naturally converts testosterone into estradiol, TRT can help improve estrogen levels, as well. For those women with concerns about estrogen increase, an aromatase blocker will inhibit the conversion to maintain lower estrogen and decrease breast cancer risk.
To learn more about HRT in adults, or to contact male and female hormone replacement therapy doctors near you, please contact us for a free consultation.