Considering hormone therapy to relieve frustrating symptoms? Exploring the topic of hormone therapy and what happens to your body when you take hormones is important for understanding your treatment options. Hormone therapy can either add or block hormones in the body, influencing how the body works or responds to certain conditions.
Let’s explore the topic of hormone therapy, what it is, how it works and who may benefit from it. Hormone therapy can be a beneficial treatment option for both men and women as they age, so we will explore each area separately. We’ll also discuss traditional hormone replacement therapy and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy so that you can make the best decision for your health.
What Are Hormones and What Do They Do?
Hormones are chemical messengers that play a vital role in regulating your body’s essential functions such as metabolism, growth and development, sexual function, reproduction, and mood. They also play a role in the body’s stress response. It’s easy to see then that any imbalances can lead you to experience a variety of health problems.
Your hormones are produced by endocrine glands and released into the bloodstream, where they travel to target tissues and organs. Once there, they bind to specific receptors and trigger a particular response. An example of this is testosterone in men. It is produced by the testes and binds to receptors on sperm cells, signaling the production of more sperm. Therefore, one symptom of testosterone imbalances in men is reduced sperm production, resulting in fertility issues and problems conceiving.
The primary glands in the endocrine system are the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and gonads (ovaries and testes). And. while the endocrine system is complex, it is important to remember that the hormones produced by each gland work together to maintain a balance in the body. This balance is known as homeostasis. Homeostasis is essential for good health. When it is disrupted, it can lead to compromised immune function and disease.
Our Hormones at Different Life Stages
Throughout our lives, our hormone levels fluctuate in response to different life stages and events. For example, during puberty, the hormones produced by the gonads stimulate the development of secondary sexual characteristics, including breasts in girls and facial hair in boys.
During pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone increase to support the developing baby. And, during menopause, declining levels of the hormone estrogen can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Natural fluctuations in hormone levels at these different stages are to be expected. However, as we age, our hormone levels naturally decline. This decline can sometimes lead to imbalances that can cause health problems. Some people find relief from these issues with hormone therapy.
What Is Hormone Therapy?
Hormone therapy (HT) is a treatment that uses synthetic or natural hormones to replace or supplement the hormones your body is no longer producing. It is also often called hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The goal of HRT is to relieve symptoms caused by imbalances in hormone levels and to restore homeostasis. HRT can be used to treat a variety of symptoms associated with various conditions, including menopause, hypogonadism, and growth disorders.
Hormone therapy can be classified in one of two ways. The first is synthetic or synthesized HT, which uses human-made hormones that are structurally similar to the hormones produced by your body. The second is bioidentical HT, which uses hormones that are identical in structure to the hormones your body produces.
Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy
Synthetic hormone replacement therapy had a bumpy and somewhat controversial beginning. Developed as a treatment to help relieve the symptoms of menopause in the 1960s, it enjoyed more widespread popularity in the 1990s. However, after the announcement of the first results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002, which stated that HRT had some issues, HRT use dropped dramatically. The study’s results received wide publicity from the media, creating panic among some users and new guidance for doctors prescribing HRT.
However, beginning as early as 2006, the WHI trials were re-evaluated by several researchers. After looking at the data again and doing a meta-analysis of the studies, they found far more optimistic and positive indications. Researchers discovered that using HRT in younger women (50-59 years old) or early postmenopausal women (within 10 years of menopause) has beneficial effects on the heart and reduces the chances for coronary diseases.
As time moves forward, so does the quality of synthetic hormone treatments. As a result, the number of individuals enjoying freedom from the discomforts of hormone imbalances thanks to synthetic HT is also increasing. However, it’s important to note that specialists or primary healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses, administer synthetic hormone therapy. It depends on your location and local laws. That makes it different and less accessible than bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which we specialize in here at BodyLogicMD.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a type of hormone therapy that uses hormones that are identical in structure to the hormones produced by your body. Today, these are often derived from plant sources, making them a natural hormone replacement option.
The history of BHRT pre-dates synthetic HRT by several decades. In the 1930s, a Canadian researcher named James Collip (who also helped isolate insulin) created the first BHRT when he discovered a technique to extract an estrogenically active hormone from the urine of pregnant women. Since then, BHRT has evolved under the guidance of brilliant researchers like John R. Lee and Jonathan Wright, both considered pioneers in the field of BHRT. The focus now is on plant-derived compounds, which are identical in structure to the hormones your body produces.
The significant advantage of BHRT over synthetic HRT is that BHRT uses hormones that are identical in structure to the hormones produced by your body. Therefore, they are more readily metabolized and utilized by your system. This results in more balanced hormone levels and fewer side effects overall.
Who Will Benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy?
There are many different reasons why someone might need hormone therapy. Traditionally, HRT has been focused on treating the symptoms of menopause in women. However, hormone therapy can also treat other issues, including those in men.
The most common reason for HRT is to relieve the symptoms associated with menopause. These symptoms, which can include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings, are caused by imbalances in hormone levels. Hormone therapy can help to restore balance and alleviate these symptoms.
Hormone therapy is not just for women. Men also experience hormonal changes as they age. Testosterone levels gradually decline with age, starting around the age of 30. This decline can lead to a condition called hypogonadism, which can cause fatigue symptoms, low sex drive, reduced muscle mass and erectile dysfunction. Hormone therapy can help to treat these symptoms by replacing the missing testosterone.
Shedding the Stigma Associated with Hormone Therapy
As our understanding of hormones and hormone health continues to evolve, more and more people are turning to hormone therapy to improve their quality of life. However, there is still a significant stigma surrounding hormone therapy, particularly when it comes to menopause.
Many people see menopause as a natural part of aging. They believe that the associated symptoms are simply something women must deal with. However, not every woman’s journey through this part of their life is the same. As with other uniquely female experiences like childbirth and menstruation, we must remain open to the possibility that there are avenues available that can help those who have a challenging time.
Menopause is a period of hormonal imbalance, and the symptoms result from this imbalance. Thankfully, hormone therapy can help to restore balance and relieve symptoms. However, the stigma surrounding hormone therapy prevents many women from seeking this life-changing treatment.
Likewise, for men dealing with the symptoms of low testosterone, the stigma surrounding hormone therapy can be just as strong. Low testosterone is often seen as a natural part of aging. As a result, many men are reluctant to pursue treatment for fear of being seen as less manly. However, hormone therapy can help men regain their energy, strength, libido, and overall quality of life.
It is time for the stigma surrounding hormone therapy to end. Hormone therapy is a safe and effective treatment for men and women alike, and it has the potential to significantly improve your quality of life. So, let’s normalize the conversation and ensure everyone has access to the information and resources needed to make informed health decisions.
Getting Started with Hormone Therapy
The first step to starting your journey with hormone therapy is to take the quiz to see if bioidentical hormone therapy is right for you. You should consider taking this quiz if you’re an aging adult currently experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Reduced libido
- Decreased energy levels
- Loss of muscle tone or muscle mass
- Memory and focus issues
- Unexplained weight gain
After checking your symptoms and seeing where you need assistance, we contact you to schedule a telehealth consultation with a highly trained Integrative Wellness Practitioner. There’s also no need to make the trip to a medical facility or lab, as we offer hormone testing at home to make this as convenient as possible for you.
During the consultation, we review your health history, current symptoms and wellness goals to create a personalized supplement and care plan tailored to your unique needs.
If hormone therapy is right for you, we ship your medication and supplies directly to your door, so you can start feeling your best as soon as possible. In addition, you’ll have continuing support from your practitioner and integrative health team. They work together with you to ensure you’re seeing the best possible results.
Supporting Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is a significant first step in living your best life. However, to experience optimal results, it’s essential to support the changes you’ll experience through HT by developing other healthy habits. The following are some of the best ways to make the most of hormone therapy and enjoy the best results:
- Get regular exercise – Exercise helps improve circulation, sleep quality and energy levels, all of which can help improve hormone balance. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. If you have limited mobility or are restricted to low-impact activities, consider adding in some water-based exercise like swimming, water aerobics or aqua jogging. If you can, consider daily walks or even light resistance training to build cardio endurance and strength.
- Manage stress – Stress can affect hormone levels, so it’s important to find ways to manage it. For example, you can work on incorporating stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga or deep breathing into your daily routine. Exercise, which we’ve already mentioned, can also help to reduce stress levels. Even activities like journaling or spending time in nature can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed.
- Support your gut health with a healthy diet – A healthy gut is essential for overall health and well-being. Make sure to eat a diet that includes plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should also limit your intake of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi can also help support a healthy gut.
- Avoid toxins – We’ve already touched on this. Still, toxins can disrupt hormone balance and make it harder for the body to function correctly. Avoid things like cigarettes, alcohol, and processed foods. If you’re having trouble kicking a habit that’s doing you no favors, reach out to a professional for help. You can also take steps to avoid environmental toxins like pollutants and chemicals. Consider using an air purifier in your home and office and investing in natural, non-toxic personal care products.
- Get enough sleep – Sleep is crucial for overall health, and it’s vital when you’re trying to balance your hormones. Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you can do a few things to improve your sleep quality. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress and bedding, establish a regular sleep schedule, and avoid using electronics in bed. You can also try winding down with a relaxation technique like meditation or reading before bed.
Hormone Therapy Puts You in Control
Hormone therapy is a great way to take control of your health and well-being. Whether you’re trying to deal with unexplained symptoms like fatigue, or you’re looking to take control of your hormone levels to rebuild muscle, hormone therapy can be a great option.
And, remember, to get the most out of hormone therapy, it’s essential to support it with other healthy habits like exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet. But, with some effort and dedication, along with our help, you can experience the fantastic benefits of hormone therapy and live your life as you were meant to.