Hormone replacement therapy is the process of taking hormone supplementation to rebalance your hormone levels and improve your quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is not for everyone, but when it is helpful it can provide many benefits.
Before you can determine with your doctor if hormone replacement therapy is right for you, there are a few steps you need to take. Taking the medication is the easy part, but ensuring you know all the steps to get there is the first step.
Keep reading so you know exactly what needs to be done and what to expect. This includes choosing the best place to go for treatment, diagnosing a hormone deficiency, ruling out other causes of low hormones, and mentally preparing for what is to come.
Choosing a Place To Go for Hormone Replacement Therapy
You may be surprised to know that you have options when it comes to where you get hormone replacement therapy. It may seem easiest to go to your regular medical doctor for HRT, but there are other options including private HRT clinics that have their own benefits as well, especially since providers specific to HRT often have expertise across many different types of HRT both for short-term and long-term use, and often for both male and female patients.
Regular Medical Office
Your regular healthcare provider such as your family medicine or primary care provider is likely excellent at providing you care. These practitioners are able to prescribe hormone replacement therapy, however, oftentimes they do not have much experience in the process.
Some of these providers take extra training in the HRT area and are very well equipped to take care of your needs, while others may have never done this before or only a couple of times in their career.
One great benefit to this is that your primary care provider already has a relationship with you and knows your medical history. When deciding to go with these providers, have an honest conversation with them about their experience and comfortability with administering hormone replacement therapies. This should be taken into consideration when deciding where to get your treatment.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Clinic
Hormone replacement therapy clinics only focus on these treatments and have licensed medical professionals that have special training in the area. These providers are up to date on the most recent research and know what therapies are good for each person. They are also knowledgeable on creating a comprehensive care plan that includes other medications to keep the body in balance.
Elite HRT is an excellent example of an HRT clinic that can create a personalized treatment plan for you. We can do everything from your blood test and assessment to prescribing the appropriate medications and therapies.
The Preliminary Steps
Medical History Forms
Think back to any doctor’s visit you have ever had. It likely begins with filling out medical history forms. While these forms may seem like a nuisance sometimes, they are actually a very important part of getting to know you from a medical perspective.
In these forms, you give your healthcare provider a snapshot of your medical conditions both past and present, medications, supplements, past surgeries, and current symptoms. Understanding these can help decide if hormone replacement therapy may be helpful for you.
If at this point you have nothing that is contraindicated to the therapy, you will likely progress to the next step.
If your symptoms line up with a potential hormone problem, then a hormone test is likely the next step. A hormone test will be done by your local laboratory or your healthcare office. Your blood will be drawn for a short 5-10 minutes to get a large enough sample. The sample will then be assessed for a number of things to determine if hormone replacement therapy would be beneficial for you.
The first thing that the provider will look at is basic blood components. It will look at how many red blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, and hematocrit is in your blood. It will also look at things like how much lipids are fats, such as cholesterol is in your blood.
The Elite HRT hormone test for males also looks at estradiol, PSA, DHEA, free and total testosterone, thyroid profile, and IGF-1, while the Elite HRT blood test for females also looks at estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, free and total testosterone, thyroid profile, and IGF-1.
From the results of this test, your provider can determine if you have a hormone imbalance or if deficiency and if it can be helped by hormone replacement therapy or if other treatments are necessary.
Ruling Out Other Causes
If you have made it to this step it is likely that you have a hormone deficiency. While many hormone deficiencies such as testosterone, human growth hormone, and estrogen can be impacted by age, there are also causes of hormone deficiency that can be more serious and need other attention.
If a hormone deficiency is a result of an underlying condition it is important that the condition is addressed and not just the hormone imbalance.
To prevent this from happening it is important to rule out other causes of hormone deficiency. This will begin with a physical assessment and can continue with other testing if necessary.
After all other causes of hormone deficiency have been ruled out it is at this point that hormone replacement therapy is likely started.
What To Expect From Hormone Replacement Therapy
Doing things that are unknown can be anxiety-provoking and simply make you feel uneasy. When going into a new therapy or treatment the best thing you can do is inform yourself to reduce the anxiety you are feeling. These feelings often happen when you don’t know what to expect, so understanding what to expect from hormone replacement therapy can help put you at ease and plan your life accordingly to ensure you can accommodate what is necessary from the hormone replacement treatments, such as the side effects of HRT including physical changes, especially when androgens are involved.
One thing you should be ready for when it comes to hormone replacement therapy is to attend follow-up appointments. Hormones need to be carefully balanced and sometimes the first dose of hormone therapy is not correct for you.
It is a balancing act and takes having open communication with your doctor about symptoms to find the best dose for you.
At these follow-up appointments, you will discuss the symptoms you are having with your provider and determine if they can be addressed by altering the medication dosage. You also may have follow-up hormone testing to measure the levels over your treatment course. This can ensure that the treatments are working well and are helping to balance your hormone levels appropriately.
These follow-up appointments will require you to make time in your schedule. However, having the best treatment plan is ultimately to your advantage and will help you to get the desired effects that you are hoping for.
Hormone replacement therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It has to be tailored specifically to each person which means the form of medication that you get might not be what the next person gets.
There are different forms of hormone replacement therapy depending on your lifestyle, hormone type, and more. Injections are some of the most common forms of hormone replacement. Other forms include pills, patches, gels, creams, and more.
Each form has its own pros and cons so work with your doctor to determine what form will be best for you and will make the most sense with your lifestyle and needs.
When people think of hormone replacement therapy they likely only imagine taking the hormone that they are deficient in. However, taking a comprehensive approach to hormone replacement therapy is important to prevent symptoms that are unwanted and get the best effect possible. These comprehensive approaches may take other medications as well as the hormone itself.
For example, with testosterone replacement therapy some medications that are taken along with testosterone are human chorionic gonadotropin hormone and estrogen blockers, or aromatase inhibitors. These medications help to prevent the side effects of testicular atrophy and the process of testosterone transforming into estrogen (aromatization).
While it may be intimidating to start on multiple medications you should know the benefits of taking these medications and how a comprehensive approach will help you. If you have additional questions or concerns about your treatment plan you should always bring these to your healthcare provider so you can be your own advocate.
Starting hormone replacement therapy is similar to starting any medication such as a blood pressure medication or for an allergy. You first need to determine that there is a problem, diagnose the problem, and finally ensure that nothing else could be causing the problem. Once these beginning steps occur you are on the path to getting the therapy and treatments that you need.
Hopefully, once you begin your hormone replacement therapy you will have an improved quality of life and feel like you have gained control of your life again.
If you’re ready to get started, click here to explore what Elite HRT has to offer.