Your body produces numerous hormones that signal the body to conduct certain tasks. Some hormones are sex hormones, and they’re specific to a person’s gender. As you age, the body produces less of these hormones, and your body responds to the change. Doctors use hormone replacement therapy to control your symptoms, but you should do your research before undergoing the therapy the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
What Are Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body, meaning they’re substances that signal and control certain processes in the body. While some people produce an inadequate amount of these hormones from birth, age is usually the culprit behind a hormone deficiency. Women produce two main sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. On the other hand, men produce androgens, specifically testosterone.
When women go through menopause, their bodies produce less estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are necessary to regulate menstruation. They’re also needed to conceive and carry a baby to full term. Most women go through menopause at around 51 years of age, but the age may vary anywhere from 40 to far past the age of 51, depending on the woman.
When a woman begins going through menopause, the decrease in hormones leads to a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, mood swings and irritability. She may lose her interest in sex at this point as well. Not to mention, her vaginal fluids may decrease at this stage, too. Hot flashes are a very common symptom of menopause, with about 75 percent of women experiencing them during menopause. Muscle and joint pain are common as well. The amount of calcium in a woman’s body tends to diminish at this time, which leads to issues with bone density.
Although it’s not inevitable, men may lose testosterone with age. Sometimes, the process begins as early as 25 years of age and will continue throughout life. By the age of 30, most men do start to see a decrease in their testosterone levels. When men begin to lose testosterone, they may feel fatigued. A decrease in testosterone can lead to depression. It’s also possible a man’s strength will decrease. Sexual side effects are possible when androgenic hormone levels decrease. A man may lose his desire for sex, and it’s even possible for a man to experience impotence. Baldness isn’t always hereditary. In some cases, men will lose their hair as a result of a decrease in testosterone. An increase in body fat and mood changes are possible also.
Definition of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment that endocrinologists, some chiropractors and various other specialists offer. The treatment is used to counteract the decrease in hormone levels. The specialist will give the patient small dosages of the hormone they lack in order to ease the unpleasant symptoms of menopause or a decrease in testosterone. The doctor may use pellets that the size of a grain of rice and are inserted underneath the skin. There are also patches, gels, injections and oral medications. In most cases, the doctor will use an all-natural form of the hormone.
Safeness of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Although a patient might still experience symptoms of a decreased hormone level, hormone replacement therapy is effective at reducing the discomfort from symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and a decreased sex drive. The hormones also have the potential to protect against osteoporosis and colon cancer.
In most cases, the practitioner will use a natural form of the hormone, so the patient tends to respond well to the treatment. For women, one of the more common symptoms of hormone replacement therapy is digestive issues such as bloating, gas, stomach cramping and nausea, which tend to ease up after the first few sessions.
Woman are at a higher risk for breast cancer if they undergo estrogen replacement therapy. The hormones increase the density of the breasts, which increases the patient’s risk of breast cancer. It’s also possible a woman will experience breast tenderness, enlargement and swelling. Women may also experience the following symptoms:
- Gall bladder disease
- Leg cramping
- Heart problems
- Unusual bleeding
- Endometrial cancer
Testosterone replacement therapy does have the potential to increase a male’s sex drive and reduce other unpleasant side effects of a low testosterone level, but it’s possible a person will have a site reaction, such as irritation, a rash or itching, from a patch, gel, injection or implant. Research has indicated oral forms of testosterone might harm the liver. Men who use hormone replacement therapy may suffer from prostate problems including an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Males may also suffer from blood clots, sleep apnea or congestive heart failure from hormone replacement therapy.
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