Hormone replacement therapy is an option of therapy for post-menopausal women that may be experiencing symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats. These symptoms could be related to the elevated risk of bone loss that can take place in order to replace what their ovaries used to make.
When women go through menopause, about 75% will have some hot flashes – they may be mild/not be too bothersome. However, about 25% of women will have severe incapacitating hot flashes that stop them in their tracks and cause serious disruptions to their sleep patterns. They need some type of medical therapy, and hormone replacement therapy is the gold standard. It is one of the methods that will truly work.
It relieves hot flashes in addition to improving sleep with fewer sleep disruptions and better dream sleep. It also prevents bone loss and some of the more localized symptoms that women have, including vaginal dryness. Plus there are a few other benefits. There are fewer cases of diabetes and less heart disease, but only in women that started when they were under the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause.
In 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative study came out, everyone was frightened of hormone replacement therapy because it showed risks of heart disease, dementia, blood clots, and stroke. However, what researchers and doctors have discovered in the past 15 years is that age and time for menopause really matter.
When is the right time for hormone replacement therapy?
Women who are under the age of 60, or are within 10 years of menopause are excellent candidates for hormone replacement therapy, especially if they are showing symptoms or are at high risk for bone loss already. Women that fall under these categories can safely take hormone therapy and doctors can minimize the risks.
Women who are older, or further from menopause, may actually have more risk from taking hormone replacement therapy. They could experience more heart disease, more dementia, more strokes, and blood clots. To reiterate, how old you are when you start hormone replacement therapy and how far you are from menopause are really important.
So the best candidate for hormone replacement therapy are women who are close to menopause. Women who are under the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause, have reportedly experienced relief of their hot flashes, felt improvements in their sleep, and reported fewer cases of heart disease and diabetes.
Women who shouldn’t start hormone therapy are women that are older than 60 or 70 or further than 20 years from menopause.
What about testosterone replacement therapy for men?
The ages when men will experience lower testosterone levels is a similar age range to when women may experience menopause – usually around their 50s and 60s. The fact is that as we grow older, the testosterone in the body will naturally decrease. However, there are cases of low levels of testosterone in younger patients who may have chronic issues or have had previous experiences with any diseases that affected their hormone levels.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone. It’s what gives people their libido, also known as sexual desire. It is also important for bone density – it is what makes your bones strong and hard. Along with these functions, testosterone also controls your insulin levels – which is controlling your diabetes and preventing metabolic symptoms.
Symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Poor energy (especially in the afternoon)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced endurance and exercising
- Reduced work productivity
- Reduced exercise productivity
- Other mental effects like irritability, depression, confusion, or short-term memory loss.
These are very general symptoms that can be associated with other diseases, which is why it helps to have blood drawn to measure testosterone levels, sometimes two separate times with a week between them. Other factors can affect these levels like the time of the day. Testosterone will typically peak in the morning and drop off through the day. It is critical to see what the peak levels of testosterone are for you in your day in order to create the best plan for you and to see if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.
Knowing the peak levels helps identify what the low levels are. Once your doctor knows this then they can suggest various treatments. There are different treatments for low testosterone – they can come in the form of a patch, gel, injection, or even pellets that are placed underneath the fat tissue of the skin. There is even a pill that can be used to modulate/manipulate your body’s testosterone signals so that it may induce the natural production of more.
To reiterate, you want to make sure that you see a medical doctor rather than going to your local health store because a lot of herbal treatments over the counter have not been fully tested and cannot be wholly recommended. If you are wondering if you are a good candidate for testosterone therapy, you want to be in proper medical care with somebody who specializes in treating low testosterone.
What does hormone replacement therapy look like?
With hormone replacement therapy, some doctors believe that the best therapy is what relieves your specific symptoms. They may attempt to use the lowest dose of therapy to alleviate certain symptoms. This is just one of the ways in which professionals can minimize risks, in addition to working with your needs closely. There are plenty of benefits of hormone replacement therapy that you should consider as well when weighing the pros and cons of receiving this treatment.
The combination of hormone therapies used is wholly dependent on the patient – some people may require estrogen and progesterone, for example, because estrogen alone can promote overgrowth of the lining of the uterus and increase the risks of cancer. However, someone who has had a hysterectomy does not need and should probably not take progesterone because it may actually increase the risks of cancer. These are just some oversimplified examples of why it is crucial to consult with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for hormone therapy.
Which therapy is right for me?
Hormone therapy is available in a few different forms and each one is administered a bit differently, depending on your individual situation. Multiple estrogen products are FDA approved, including Estradiol, which contains estrogen identical to the hormones made in your body prior to experiencing menopause. It is available as an oral tablet and also as a patch, gel, cream, spray, or vaginal ring. Similarly, progesterone comes in different forms as well – including an FDA-approved bioidentical that can also be administered orally.
Your medical provider will work with you to determine whether hormone therapy is right for you – and if so, which formulas, dosage, and method of intake are best in your individual circumstances.
If you are a good candidate for hormone therapy – it will generally be administered in the lowest dose for the shortest duration needed to achieve treatment goals. There is no set duration of therapy that is right for every person. That is why your medical provider should review your ongoing need for hormone therapy – you can request this to be done on an annual basis so that your doctor can take note of your current state of health and factor in any new information about hormone therapy that may have become available in the meantime.
However, according to Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Clinic, if you are only using local, health store estrogen to treat vaginal dryness, you can use that for as long as you need without fear of serious negative effects.
How can I schedule an appointment at LifeGaines in Boca Raton?
To find out more about either HRT or testosterone therapy schedule a free consultation at (561) 931-2430, email [email protected], or go to www.lifegaines.com for more information. LifeGaines is located at 3785 N Federal Highway Suite #150, Boca Raton, FL 33431.