Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on September 01, 2016

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can
help men and women improve energy, balance
mood, increase libido and improve sleep.

For both men and women, a hormone deficiency can be difficult to deal with. At times, the symptoms can seem like they’re taking over your life.

For women going through menopause, hot flashes, sweating, mood swings, headaches, sexual issues and trouble sleeping are all common symptoms for menopausal and postmenopausal women that intrude on your quality of life. And for men, low testosterone, or andropause, can lead to decreased muscle mass, hair loss, decreased sex drive and even depression.

Fortunately, there are treatment options that can ease these symptoms, most notably Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). However, importantly, HRT is not for everyone.

HRT involves taking hormones to replace those that your body has stopped making or doesn’t make enough of. For women, this is usually estrogen and progesterone. For men, it’s testosterone. There are a variety of ways to take these hormones – pills, dermal patches or gels, creams or suppositories. In recent years, there has been a movement away from synthetic hormones towards “bioidentical hormones,” defined as “compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the human body."

There are, not surprisingly, differences in approaches to HRT for men and women. For men, andropause is typically not as sudden as menopause, and any symptoms tend to be correspondingly less problematic than they do for menopausal women. However, low testosterone isn’t caused only by advancing age; it can also be the result of the disease hypogonadism.

Women over 60, or who are 10 or more years from the start of menopause, have higher risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and dementia with HRT. However, for women in their 50s, or who start HRT soon after entering menopause, hormone replacement may actually lower your risk for such conditions. The early 50s are when HRT is most effective. Most doctors recommend using HRT for a maximum of five years.

Women who have a history of some specific health problems should tread very carefully when considering HRT. These issues include heart problems, blood clots and stroke, and breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer. Also, smokers are not eligible for HRT – the combination leads to a much higher risk of serious health problems.

Additionally, if there is a family history of osteoporosis, HRT can help alleviate the potential problem as you get older.

For most adults, there’s no need to undergo HRT; if the symptoms of hormone deficiency are manageable, there’s no reason to seek a medical solution. Everyone is different, and it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about the approach that will work best for you.

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