Understanding Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormones in our bodies are responsible for regulating many bodily functions that help us to feel balanced and normal. When we think of the many systems that are managed by hormones, sexual drive, energy, sleep, metabolism, mood stabilization, blood sugar regulation, hunger, and immune response, it’s easy to see how any deviation from the expected normal hormone range can affect our sense of well-being.
When hormones in our body are not produced appropriately, men and women can experience changes such as decreased metabolism, fatigue, and low sex drive. . Hormone changes can also be a factor in weight gain leading to obesity, inflammation, sleep pattern disturbance and depression. It’s important to remember that hormone imbalance will affect men and women differently because the dominant hormones unique to each sex control different bodily functions.
In men, testosterone deficiency is present in a large percentage of men 50-69 years, and that percentage gets higher after the age of 70. In addition to the general symptoms described, hormone deficiency in men also produces unwanted decreases in muscle mass, bone mass and strength.
For women, the drop in estrogen after menopause causes a hormone imbalance that is a normal physiological part of aging, but its impact on women’s social and emotional lives can be debilitating. Many women will experience depression and aggravated physical symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes and vaginal dryness that could diminish one’s quality of life and intimacy with a partner. Like men, women may also experience bone loss, and skin texture changes.
The whole-body impact of hormone dysfunction is so incapacitating that medical teams have been researching and implementing treatments for hormone replacement therapy for over 80 years. Patients today have many options for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that fall into two distinct categories: bioidentical and synthetic. The difference between the two is simple, synthetic hormones are chemically similar, while bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to the hormones your body already produces.
A key difference to note is the process of isolating these hormones. Synthetic hormones are predominantly isolated from the urine of pregnant horses. Bioidentical hormones are produced from a hormone precursor found in wild yams. For these reasons, bioidentical HRT is now favored over synthetic hormone replacement.
In our practice, we see the tremendous benefit that HRT can offer to men and women, and have introduced it as a service. After lab testing to determine one’s deficiency and required therapeutic levels, hormone replacement is delivered by a pellet almost painlessly inserted into the subcutaneous fat on the hip.
Thanks to better nutrition and medical care, men and women are living longer lives. HRT is one tool we can use to continue to enjoy a better quality of life as the body ages.
Heather Orr, MSN, FNP-Cis a medical provider at Halcyon Med Spa.