Hormone Replacement Therapy For Women
Restoring Hormonal Balance
Customized hormone replacement therapy has improved the quality of life for millions of women who suffer from hormonal imbalance. The ideal process for achieving hormonal balance includes an assessment of hormone levels and complete evaluation of signs and symptoms, followed by replacement of the deficient hormones in the most appropriate dose via the most effective route for each person, and monitoring to fine tune the therapy.
When using customized hormones for replacement therapy, the discussion should be based on physiology (i.e., how the body responds to hormonal stimuli, or too much or too little of a given hormone) versus pharmacology (the study of how drugs affect the various body systems, including side effects) – because Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the replacement of deficient hormones with hormones that are chemically identical to those that the body naturally produces, but which have declined due to aging or illness.
Women Prefer Natural Hormones
Mayo Clinic researchers surveyed 176 women taking natural micronized progesterone who had previously taken synthetic progestin (medroxyprogesterone acetate, or MPA) to see if progesterone improved the women’s overall quality of life, menopausal symptoms, and satisfaction with HRT. After one to six months, the women reported an overall 34% increase in satisfaction on micronized progesterone compared to their previous HRT, reporting these improvements: 50% in hot flashes, 42% in depression, and 47% in anxiety. Micronized progesterone was also more effective in controlling breakthrough bleeding. In other studies, women using micronized progesterone had specific improvements in the areas of cognition, sleep, and menstrual problems.
“The Rest of the Story”
Typically thought of as male hormones, androgens are a class of hormones that include DHEA and testosterone, which are normally produced in a young healthy woman, and are important for libido as well as integrity of skin, bone, and muscle. When women enter menopause, testosterone and DHEA levels may decline. Experts now recognize the importance of supplementing androgens for women who are deficient.
While women have benefited from therapy with estrogens, progesterone, and androgens that are “chemically identical” to the hormones produced naturally by the human body, researchers and health care professionals realize that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to achieving hormonal balance. Thyroid and adrenal function, as well as nutritional status, should also be evaluated and treated when indicated.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men
Restoring Vitality with Natural Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement for Men
Numerous changes are associated with an age-related decline in the hormone testosterone. Some men may go through a rather sudden change in testosterone levels that might correlate with the hormonal changes that women experience at menopause. However, most men have a slower and more subtle hormonal decline experiencing symptoms over a period of time. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are often denied by the patient or attributed to other problems.
Andropause may consist of a variety of signs and symptoms, including:
- weakness, reduced muscle mass
- disturbed sleep, insomnia
- reduced libido
- erectile dysfunction
- heart disease, atherosclerosis
- low sperm counts
- depression, anxiety
- memory impairment
- reduced cognitive function
Natural Testosterone Replacement is Central to the Treatment of Andropause.
When hormones are replaced or restored back to physiologic levels considered normal for younger males, men may experience a dramatic reversal of many of these changes.
On the average, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline at a rate of 1% per year after age 40. It is estimated that 20% of men aged 60-80 years have levels below the lower limit of normal. The diagnosis of low testosterone levels (medically termed “hypogonadism”) is based on the presence of signs or symptoms and must be confirmed by laboratory testing, which should include Total testosterone, Bioavailable testosterone (Free plus Albumin Bound), Estradiol, Cholesterol, Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), Complete Blood Count (CBC), Hemoglobin, and Hematocrit. Screening for potential risks of androgen therapy should be performed prior to the initiation of treatment. Evaluation should include a history of or potential for sleep apnea, arrhythmias, significant symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or personal or family history of prostate carcinoma, and a physical exam. Proper monitoring of laboratory values and clinical response are essential when prescribing testosterone replacement therapy.
Natural testosterone must not be confused with synthetic derivatives or “anabolic steroids,” which when used by athletes and body builders have caused disastrous effects. For example, administration of synthetic non-aromatizable androgens, like stanozolol or methyltestosterone, causes profound decreases in HDL-C (“good cholesterol”) and significant increases in LDL-C (“bad cholesterol”), and has been associated with serious heart disease. Yet, hormone replacement with testosterone, an aromatizable androgen, results in lower total cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
A healthy lifestyle has been shown to be associated with higher hormone levels, and higher hormone levels seem to induce a more active, healthier lifestyle. When hormone levels decline, people become less active and gain weight. As people gain weight, hormones are stored in fat and become unavailable to meet the body’s demands. Lack of exercise, excessive alcohol use, and many diseases can reduce bioavailable hormone levels. For optimal results, it is essential that hormone replacement therapy be combined with adequate exercise, proper nutrition, and appropriate use of natural supplements.