Hormone replacement therapy has a large scope and can encompass a lot of things. Knowing the ins and outs of hormone replacement therapy can be tough especially when you have never seen a doctor for this before or don’t know anyone who has either.
Even though this could be a problem for you it shouldn’t get in the way of you creating a well informed decision about whether or not HRT may be good for you.
Keep reading to learn about what hormone replacement therapy is, which doctor you should see, if it is safe, and how to know if you may need it.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
To start off with let’s cover what hormone replacement is. Hormone replacement is the process of taking hormone medications that are very similar to your body’s natural hormones to get them back into the normal range.
Hormone replacement therapy is for people who have low levels of a certain hormone so that they can be replenished. It is not to boost effects in people that have normal levels of hormone in their body, as this could cause problems with the levels being too high.
It can also be used for many types of hormones including estrogen, testosterone, human growth hormone, progesterone, and more. The treatment plan for hormone replacement therapy should be carefully created and monitored by a healthcare professional.
Which Doctors Prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Many doctors can help with hormone replacement therapy, but the first line of command is your primary care provider. This could be an internal medicine doctor, family medicine doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. All of these care providers are helpful in diagnosing if low hormone levels may be a problem for you. This is done through a hormone test with urine, blood, or saliva.
The primary care provider can either create a treatment plan for you or refer you to a specialist for further treatment. They may refer because they do not have experience with hormone replacement therapy or do not feel comfortable creating a safe and effective HRT treatment plan.
An endocrinologist is one option that your primary care doctor may refer you to. An endocrinologist is a doctor that specializes in the glands of the body that release hormones. They know about each hormone individually, how the hormones are related to each other, as well as how the body regulated the amount of each hormone in the body. Their whole job relies around hormones and glands so they have extensive knowledge about how to help with hormone replacement therapy.
Can Elite HRT Help?
Elite HRT can help with hormone replacement therapy. Infact, it is what they specialize in. Elite HRT is a company that offers in person and telehealth appointments to create hormone replacement therapy treatment plans. They are another option for your doctor to refer you to because they have all of the specialty knowledge needed.
You will have an initial consultation where your hormone levels are assessed from the lab testing and further testing can be recommended or an HRT treatment plan can be made especially for you. Because hormones are so individual it is important that someone like Elite HRT does not take a one size fits all approach to hormone replacement therapy. That is why each treatment plan is molded just to you and your needs.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?
You cannot make a blanket statement about if something is safe for everyone because there will always be exceptions. When hormone replacement therapy is done in the right patient, with the proper treatment plan, and managed by an attentive healthcare provider it is generally safe.
There are many benefits, but there are risks as well. The risks depend on the specific hormone, dose, and way you are taking them so you will need to talk with your doctor about the risks that you would be more likely to experience.
Also, even though there are risks involved there are ways to reduce some of these risks with lifestyle modifications like eating a well balanced diet, losing weight if obese, exercising and staying active, and even taking other hormones prescribed by your doctor alongside the primary hormone. For example, taking testosterone with human chorionic gonadotropin can reduce risks of testicular atrophy, while taking progesterone with estrogen can reduce risks as well.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Same for Everyone?
You would not give the same amount of medicine to a child that you would to an adult, or to a 300 pound wrestler that you would to a 90 pound elderly woman. Hormone replacement therapy is no different.
Each therapeutic regimen is created specifically for that person based on their risk factors, age, symptoms, and results of the hormone lab tests. If your hormone levels are extremely low to begin with you will likely need a much higher dose to keep your hormone levels in a safe range. It takes a specially trained provider to take all of these factors into consideration and create the right treatment for you.
Who Should Get HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy should be considered as an option for people with low hormone levels. There are many things that could cause hormone level fluctuations including tumors on or near glands, shrinkage of a gland, a disruption in the feedback loop of a certain hormone, genetic conditions, and age.
There are actually many people that walk around with no idea that they have low hormone levels. This is hard to believe, but it is similar to how you may not know you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, until years later when you develop a condition like osteoporosis.
So, if you start experiencing any symptoms it is a good idea to check in with your doctor to get checked out and see if anything is going on. Ultimately, lab results are the best predictor of if you should get hormone replacement therapy.
Symptoms of Low Hormones
As mentioned before you may not always know that you have low hormone levels, but sometimes you do.
Some common symptoms to have when you have low hormone levels are feeling very tired or fatigued, having a difficult time sleeping, losing muscle mass, gaining body fat, and having a slow recovery from injuries or illness. Other symptoms of low hormones may be reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, foggy thinking, decreased motivation for life, joint and muscle pain, and depression or anxiety.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms you should schedule a doctor’s appointment. Even if it could be something else, these symptoms are not normal and should be addressed.
What If You Have Low Testosterone?
Having low testosterone levels in men is one of the most common reasons for hormone replacement therapy in men. These men may be having some of the symptoms experienced above especially low energy, loss of sexual interest, and erectile dysfunction. In addition to these there may also be a loss of hair, growth of breast tissue, loss of muscle mass, and increased moodiness.
Testosterone replacement therapy can be effective in those with low testosterone levels, especially associated with aging. Testosterone is also commonly taken with estrogen blockers and human chorionic gonadotropin to enhance the effects of treatment and reduce as many risks as possible.
What If You Have Low Estrogen?
Having low estrogen levels in women is one of the most common reasons for hormone replacement therapy in women. Low estrogen most commonly occurs during menopause and can make the quality of life for these women decrease. Nobody wants to experience hot flashes or night sweats if they don’t have to, so hormone replacement may be able to minimize these symptoms.
It is best used when started in early menopause and not in the later stages. This is safer and is able to address the symptoms better because they are usually more prominent in this time. Taking estrogen does have a risk of increased blood clot which can increase the risk for things like heart attack and stroke, so this should be considered, especially if you have a family history of these conditions.
Hormone replacement therapy has many facets to explore which makes it an exciting field to be interested in. Luckily for people there are talented doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants that are specialized in this area and can help when people are struggling with hormone imbalances.
Hormone replacement is different in everyone so it is important to be open and honest with your care provider so that they can help create the best treatment possible for you.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – NHS UK
Testosterone – Hormone Health Network