How HRT Helps to Correct Hormone Imbalances
Hormone imbalances can cause many unpleasant symptoms, from hot flashes and mood swings to fatigue and sexual dysfunction. In fact, according to research, as many as 80 % of women experience hormonal imbalance at some point in their lives, and many men experience symptoms related to Andropause as they age. However, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can relieve these symptoms and help correct hormone imbalances. In this article, we’ll explore how HRT works and the benefits it can offer for those experiencing hormone imbalances.
What is Hormone Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalance is a common yet often overlooked issue that can have far-reaching and long-term impacts on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It happens when the body’s natural balance of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, is upset or out of balance.
This imbalance can cause serious physical issues like weight gain, acne, menstrual irregularities, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Hormonal imbalance most commonly affects postmenopausal women or those who are pregnant. However, it may also happen in adolescents due to puberty or even in adult men undergoing andropause.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT is a medical treatment that involves replacing hormones in the body. This therapy is often used to treat conditions related to hormonal imbalances. These include menopause, hypothyroidism, or andropause (male menopause).
How Does HRT Work?
HRT typically involves taking medications that contain synthetic hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone. These hormones are designed to mimic the effects of the hormones naturally produced by the body. These medications can come in pill form, injections, skin patches, topical gels, or vaginal creams. The type of medication you take will highly depend on your condition and specific needs. In some cases, doctors may recommend lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet modifications in addition to medications.
The main goal of hormone replacement therapy is to restore balance to the levels of hormones in your body so you can feel better and function normally again. The effects vary from person to person, but many people experience relief from symptoms associated with their condition after starting HRT. For example, postmenopausal women might experience relief from hot flashes and night sweats after starting hormone replacement therapy.
Different Forms of HRT
There are two main forms of hormone replacement therapy. Here is an in-depth guide to both so you can better decide which is more suitable.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
Bioidentical hormones are artificial hormones chemically identical to those naturally produced by the body. BHRT usually comes in topical forms such as gels, creams, or patches and can be prescribed to treat conditions such as menopause symptoms or hypothyroidism. The benefit of BHRT is that it can be customized to meet individual needs since each person’s hormone levels will vary from time to time.
Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy (SHRT)
SHRT is a type of treatment that uses synthetic hormones—or those created in a laboratory—to supplement those normally produced by the body. These synthetic hormones are designed to mimic natural hormones and can be taken orally or through injections. SHRT has been used for many years to treat conditions related to menopause and other hormonal imbalances. The main benefit of SHRT is that it may provide relief from symptoms more quickly than other treatments because it directly replaces depleted hormones in the body.
Different Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Apart from forms of HRT, there are also various types of these therapies. Let’s explore three main types: estrogen-only therapy, combined therapy, and testosterone replacement therapy.
Estrogen-only therapy is generally prescribed to women who have had a hysterectomy. This hormone replacement therapy involves taking estrogen in either pill or topical cream, gel, or spray form. Estrogen-only therapy can help reduce symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats, and help protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. It can also help maintain sexual function and libido in some women.
Combined hormone replacement therapy involves taking estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) either in pill form or using a combination patch system. Combined hormone replacement therapy is typically prescribed to women who still have a uterus because it helps reduce the risk of uterine cancer that comes with taking estrogen alone.
The benefits associated with combined hormone replacement therapy include reducing menopausal symptoms, helping maintain bone strength and density, and supporting cardiovascular health. It may also help with vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, and improve mood swings. Combined hormone replacement therapies can also ease painful periods in some women.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone replacement therapies are typically prescribed to men with low testosterone levels due to age or medical conditions such as hypogonadism (low testosterone production). Testosterone replacements come in many forms, including topical creams, transdermal patches, injections, and oral pills.
The main benefit associated with this type of hormone replacement is improved sexual function, energy levels, and muscle mass in men who have low testosterone levels due to age or medical conditions. Testosterone replacements may also help improve cognitive function in aging men by increasing focus and concentration levels.
How Hormone Replacement Therapy Correct Hormone Imbalances
Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how hormone replacement therapy (HRT) corrects hormone imbalances.
- Before prescribing HRT, your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history, current symptoms, and individual risk factors.
- You will begin taking HRT in the form of pills, patches, creams, or vaginal rings, depending on the type of HRT prescribed.
- The hormones in the HRT are absorbed into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body.
- Once in your body, the hormones bind to cell receptors and activate specific biochemical pathways. These pathways help alleviate menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
- If you are taking combined HRT (estrogen and progesterone), the progesterone component of the treatment helps to protect against uterine cancer by thinning the lining of the uterus.
- Over time, your body adjusts to the increased levels of hormones in the bloodstream, and your menopausal symptoms are gradually reduced.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) benefits individuals who suffer from a hormonal imbalance due to aging or other factors. If you think you may benefit from one or more types of HRTs, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding your options to make an informed decision about which type might be best suited for your unique situation.