October 13, 2021
Do I Need Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Often used to treat postmenopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can actually be used for everything from improving the body’s response to stressors to potentially reducing the risk of cancer. HRT involves either replacing hormones levels that have diminished or using medication to either block or enhance hormone production. Treatment paths vary greatly from individual to individual as a lot depends on your health, your goals, and your current hormone levels.
As hormone replacement therapy has been getting more media attention lately, many people are wondering whether the procedure might benefit them. Below, we will give you a brief overview of HRT to help you determine whether it is right for you.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is, in a very general sense, is replacement or enhancement of diminished hormones in the body to achieve a range of results. This can improve the body’s response to stressors, reduce cancer risk, enhance fertility, and even mitigate the natural effects of aging.
Hormone replacement therapy usually starts with an in-depth consultation with a medical team. During your assessment, you will discuss your goals and expectations, undergo a physical exam, and get blood work done to assess your current hormone levels.
Hormone therapy is typically associated with estrogen and progesterone for women, but can incorporate any number of hormones that may be below optimal. Levels are often adjusted for gender transitions, the treatment of menopause, and fertility issues. However, a vast number of hormones can be medically manipulated for various reasons. Your hormone therapy treatment will be uniquely catered to your needs.
Hormone replacement for men has also become popular in the last few years. Testosterone is often replaced when levels start to diminish with age, which can have numerous beneficial effects.
Hormone replacement therapy can often be administered via injection, but it can also come in the form of oral medication. However, hormones are sometimes administered as a patch, gel, vaginal cream, or slow-releasing suppository. You and your practitioner will discuss the best delivery method for you.
Do I Need Hormone Replacement Therapy?
The best means to determine if you need hormone replacement therapy is to make a consultation with a professional. While hormone replacement therapy has many benefits, it does not treat every issue and may not be right for every patient.
Some common reasons people seek hormone therapy include:
Postmenopausal women or women who have just started menopause often experience symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, low sex drive, and sleep problems. Hormone replacement therapy can be an effective way of treating these symptoms.
Feminizing Hormone Therapy
This is used to induce the same physical changes cisgender women undergo during puberty. Those undergoing gender transitions often use HRT to help their gender identity match their secondary sex characteristics.
Those with an increased risk of certain cancers may benefit from undergoing hormone therapy before or shortly after cancer develops. According to one randomized clinical trial, the drug tamoxifen, which blocks the effects of estrogen, prevented the risk of developing invasive breast cancer by roughly 50% when taken for 5 years.
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for a year or more, you may want to evaluate your hormone levels and consider hormone replacement therapy. Certain drugs cause the pituitary gland to release hormones that stimulate the growth of egg-containing ovarian follicles, increasing the likelihood of conception.
Testosterone replacement in men with decreased levels can be helpful in improving energy, improving cognitive function, and decreasing the risk of a number of chronic diseases.
While the above issues are some of the most common reasons for hormone replacement therapy, recent medical advancements have found HRT can help with recovery from sports injuries, improving immunity, or slowing the effects of aging.
What Are The Risks Of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Every medical procedure has risks, but HRT is generally very safe if you work with a qualified professional.
Breast cancer is commonly associated with HRT, but there is little to no increase in your risk of breast cancer if you take estrogen-only HRT. Combined HRT may minorly increase your risk of breast cancer, but that depends on a variety of factors, including how long you take HRT. Once you cease hormone therapy, your risk level drops. Regular breast cancer screening appointments are important for those undergoing HRT.
HRT tablets may increase the risk of blood clots. For patients over 60, certain HRT treatments can result in a small increase in your risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Your practitioner should go over your medical history extensively to ensure HRT is safe for you and that you are not at a heightened risk for complications.
How Do I Get Started With Hormone Replacement Therapy?
If you think HRT may help you, reach out to a provider in your area to book a consultation. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment path for HRT and your medical team will work with you one-on-one to determine what’s right for you.
At CORR, we evaluate your hormone levels with the blood work we take during your initial physical. From there, we determine whether your levels are optimal and prescribe appropriate hormone therapy as needed.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: The Bottom Line
While HRT is commonly associated with the treatment of menopause, it can be helpful in treating a variety of medical issues. While there are some risk factors associated with HRT, the majority of people can safely and successfully undergo treatment.
Interested in hormone replacement therapy? Book a consultation with CORR today to get started on your path to health.