What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
A simple answer to the question of “What is hormone replacement therapy?” is that it’s the process of replacing natural hormones through a medical treatment. However, this straightforward answer doesn’t allow you to understand the complex nature or the various aspects of treatment.
Hormones Being Replaced
To help understand this therapy, you need to know which hormones are being replaced in your system. Treatment is provided for both men and women, even though in the past, it was more commonly used for women nearing menopause. Any of the following hormones can be part of replacement therapy:
- Human Growth Hormone
Why Hormone Replacement Therapy is Needed
The body may fail to produce enough of a certain hormone either because of age or due to a health problem. These hormones provide many different functions and a lack can result in the development of health conditions or diseases. The condition is often diagnosed through symptoms that worsen over time. Tests are performed to measure hormone levels based on the symptoms, which either rule out or confirm the diagnosis.
One of the most common reasons for this therapy is for women reaching menopause. However, many other therapies exist. For instance, the Human Growth Hormone – or HGH – is designed to perform several tasks, including helping to stimulate growth and assist with reproduction and cell regeneration in people. Deficiency of this hormone can be caused by problems in the pituitary gland.
People with a deficiency of HGH will have poor bone density and even memory loss. Hormone replacement therapy can reverse the effects of this deficiency.
The hormone, melatonin, is responsible for sleep. A low level can cause insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, and even diabetes caused by sleep problems and anxiety. Replacement therapy can enable the person to get their rest and feel good again.
How Hormone Replacement Therapy Works
The patient is given levels of the specific hormone which helps the system begin to function normally. These hormones are often given in pill form, but other methods also work. For instance, they may use a skin patch or cream. The person may even receive shots of certain hormones.
Therapy must continue on a long-term basis unless the levels readjust to normal. Sometimes, the issue with low hormone levels is temporary, and the person may only require one or a few treatments. Other times, doctors will continue to prescribe hormone replacement therapy. It often depends whether the reduced levels are caused by age or a medical condition.
Doctors generally prescribe the lowest possible dosage, but they will adjust until the person begins to feel normal or the levels have reached the right point. While age is a contributing factor for the need of hormone replacement therapy, a medical issue is another reason this treatment may be required.
If you believe you could benefit from this treatment, talk to your doctor about it. Find out in more detail what hormone replacement therapy is and how it can help you.