What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

It is a scientific fact that our hormones play a critical role in our health and well-being. That’s not a rumor or a hypothesis but a clear fact. Every day, these biological chemicals are produced and sent throughout the body to help develop and maintain many of our daily functions and physical characteristics. Whether you’re male or female, every human on this planet relies on their hormones for their growth, blood sugar, sex drive, metabolism, weight management, fertility, and even the capacity to concentrate and retain information. In a sense, you could say that hormones are the most important components of human anatomy.

However, there will eventually come a time when the glands and organs that produce our hormones will start to weaken as our bodies begin to slowly break down from age, causing our hormone levels to either fluctuate inconsistently or lower rather significantly. And when our hormones are unbalanced, it can have a ripple effect on the body that can eliminate our happiness and energy and replace it with depression and exhaustion.

For both men and women, hormone imbalance is a problematic condition that usually occurs as they begin to reach middle age. Once adults reach their 30s or 40s, and their hormone levels naturally start to decrease, the deficiency can cause their bodies to enter a period of transition, which can lead to various symptoms that can disrupt their current lifestyle and become detrimental to their mental and physical health.

In most cases, many men and women greatly suffer from the symptoms of their hormone imbalances, which makes receiving treatment necessary for them to alleviate these issues and return to a state of living that allows them to reclaim their bodies’ natural physical function. And that’s what hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can provide.

Over the past few years, the treatment has proven quite effective in helping men and women balance their hormone levels and treat hormone-related medical issues. Now a hot topic in the modern age of medicine, many aging adults have turned to HRT therapy to help them overcome the symptoms of hormone imbalance and reclaim their bodies as they progress through middle age. However, if you’re an aging adult who is dealing with sudden symptoms that may be a result of a possible hormone imbalance and are currently considering hormone replacement therapy, you may want to learn more about how the procedure works and what it can do for you before asking your physician to refer you to a hormone replacement clinic for treatment.

How Hormone Replacement Therapy Works

When properly synthesized and administered, HRT treatments incorporate synthetic or bioidentical hormones into a medication that provides the body with the specific type of hormone needed to replace the natural hormones it has lost or is unable to produce during hormone imbalance. For example, when your pituitary gland is unable to make enough growth hormone (GH), HRT is typically used to introduce more growth hormone into the bloodstream and help elevate GH levels so that the body can maintain its composition, glucose levels, metabolism and bone growth. The same goes for other hormones vital to the body’s cellular processes, such as testosterone and estrogen.

hrt therapy

What Are Some Commonly Used Hormones for Men?

Since the male anatomy relies on several hormones to maintain its physical function and sexual characteristics, there are many kinds of hormone treatments used in male hormone replacement therapy. Many of these hormones share the weight of maintaining common male physical functions and characteristics which include:

  • Metabolism
  • Weight distribution
  • Changes in mood
  • Muscle strength
  • Brain function
  • Heart health
  • Bone growth
  • Sexual desire and performance
  • Healing and recovery after an injury or exercise

To help men recover and maintain these aspects of their physical health, hormone specialists may recommend various types of hormones that are capable of restoring these characteristics, such as human growth hormone (HGH), and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine. However, since low testosterone is typically the most common hormone imbalance found in men, the testosterone hormone is also the most commonly used hormone treatment in male HRT.

What Does Testosterone Do To The Human Body?

Testosterone, a member of the androgen family, is an important sex hormone in men that is produced in the testicles and is primarily responsible for the development of many sexual and physical characteristics in males. Like most hormones in the body, this specific androgen also helps to develop and regulate muscle mass, cognitive function, sexual desire, bone density, fat distribution, and even sperm production.

So naturally, when men run low on testosterone, it becomes more difficult for the body to continue regulating those characteristics, causing men to exhibit symptoms such as:

What Does Estrogen and Progesterone Do for The Female Anatomy?

For women, female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone also play a vital role in maintaining their physical function and secondary sexual characteristics. In terms of reproductive function, the progesterone hormone, produced in the ovaries, is primarily responsible for helping to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and preparing the uterus to receive a fertilized egg for pregnancy. Meanwhile, the estrogen hormone plays an important role during puberty and helps to develop several key biological functions and characteristics including:

  • Breast size and the production of breastmilk during weaning
  • Blood circulation and cardiovascular health
  • Muscle mass and bone density
  • Vagina lubrication for sexual intercourse

How Is Hormone Therapy Given?

There are various ways for adults to receive hormone replacement therapy.  Most hormone replacement clinics will offer a range of HRT options, including gels, patches, and implants. However, the most common forms of hormone therapy that patients will usually utilize are pills and injections.


Hormone injections are typically the most effective method for administering hormone replacement therapy. These injections are usually either administered by delivering the hormone medication deep into specifically selected muscles or under the skin in the layers of tissue between the muscles, allowing the medicine to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Depending on the nature of your specific hormone-related medical issue, your doctor may prescribe HRT injections as a once-a-day or weekly treatment. Typically, physicians will administer the first injection at the doctor’s office and will teach patients how to self-administer the injections themselves so they can continue treatment at home. Usually, most injectable medications, such as testosterone injections, are relatively easy to self-administer after you become used to the routine.

Oral Drugs

Oral hormone medications, such as testosterone boosters or supplements that are used to increase testosterone are usually a popular option among adults who have a phobia of needles or prefer to self-medicate without a physician’s supervision. Although your physician can also prescribe oral hormone medication, it is typically seen as an ineffective method of administration due to the fact that most hormone pills or tablets are usually dissolved by gastric acids in the stomach before the hormones have a chance to make it to the bloodstream.

Making a Hormone Therapy Plan

If you’re thinking about starting hormone replacement therapy, there are a few things you should consider before starting treatment.

First, like most medical procedures, there are several pros and cons that accompany using hormones to alter or adjust the body’s biological activity during hormone imbalance.

Second, just like many medical treatments, there will be cases where your body may not be compatible with specific hormone treatments used in therapy. In some cases, certain hormone medications may increase the risk of more severe medical complications for adults with pre-existing conditions.

And finally, hormone replacement therapy requires a dedicated commitment to the process for however long you remain in treatment. That will involve keeping up with your daily or weekly medication consistently and attending regularly scheduled appointments with your physician.

Of course, speaking with your physician is also a crucial step to creating an effective hormone therapy plan. They can study your medical history, assess the current status of your physiology, and discuss the potential benefits and risks of HRT in regard to your particular case. Your Doctor can also discuss what treatments would be the most comfortable for you and easiest to manage with your current lifestyle.

Pros and Cons of HRT

Just like any other medicated treatment, there are several pros and cons to undergoing hormone replacement therapy. So, before you begin considering HRT, you may want to make a list of the benefits and risks that accompany hormone replacement to help you decide if it can work as an effective long-term treatment for you.

The Benefits

Hormone replacement therapy can provide many benefits to those struggling with hormone deficiency. Men who use HRT for testosterone imbalances such as low testosterone can typically experience many improvements to their physical health, including:

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Enhanced sex drive
  • Improved brain function
  • Better sleep quality
  • Elevated mood
  • Abundant amounts of energy

Women who use HRT to alleviate the symptoms of menopause will also see improvements in their symptoms, which can help:

  • Reduce the chance of osteoporosis
  • Decrease the number of mood swings
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • Increase sex drive

The Cons

However, whether you’re male or female, HRT can also come with several risks as a result of hormone supplementation.

Male hormone replacement therapy may cause dozens of side effects and increase the risk of several serious medical conditions such as:

  • Low sperm count
  • Prostate cancer
  • Worsened sleep apnea
  • Breast enlargement
  • Blood clots
  • Acne
  • Fluid retention

On the other side of the same coin, female hormone replacement therapy can also increase the risk of certain medical conditions such as:

  • Blood clotting
  • Gallbladder complications
  • Breast cancer
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Heart attacks

Make sure to disclose your medical history and pre-existing medical conditions as you discuss all of the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy with your physician before starting treatment. They can determine whether or not HRT may be a viable treatment option for you and help you to explore other alternatives if it turns out that undergoing hormone therapy may present more risks than benefits in your case.

Who Shouldn’t Take Hormone Therapy (HT)?

Whether you’re male or female, there will be instances when HRT may not be a valuable treatment option for you. In some instances, males and females will have similar and different reasons for not being able to utilize HRT.

Female HRT

Females are usually recommended to avoid HRT if they suffer from pre-existing health conditions or are at high risk for certain complications such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke, heart attack, or vascular disease
  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure

Physicians will also recommend that females who are pregnant or planning to have children avoid hormone therapy, as the treatment may harm an unborn fetus and lead to serious congenital effects.

Male HRT

On the other hand, physicians may recommend that certain males also avoid HRT if they have a history of pre-existing conditions or may be at high risk for more severe medical issues such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • History of prostate cancer
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Blood clots
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Urinary tract complications
  • Male breast cancer

Men who are trying to conceive may also need to avoid HRT as the treatment has been shown to decrease sperm count, which may lead to infertility.

Once again, no matter the gender, it’s important to discuss any pre-existing medical conditions with your physician before starting HRT. They can weigh the risks and benefits of hormone treatment regarding your particular case and decide if HRT can work for you as a long-term treatment.

How Long Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Take?

The length of time required for your HRT will depend on the type of medication you receive and your body’s response to the treatment. In some instances, patients may only need to undergo HRT for a short period of time. However, this is very rare as many of the symptoms that were alleviated during HRT usually return once you discontinue treatment, which is why most adults will usually need to receive HRT for the rest of their lives to keep their hormone levels maintained and continue seeing results.

Potential Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Once again, men and women will experience different side effects based on the hormone medication they receive for HRT. Women who take estrogen medication during hormone replacement therapy are more likely to experience side effects such as:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Swelling in certain parts of the body
  • Leg cramps
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Vaginal bleeding

Females who take progesterone as part of their HRT will usually experience similar side effects as women who take estrogen but with a few additional issues such as depression, acne, and abdominal and back pain.

Men who take hormones such as testosterone during HRT will also experience several side effects such as:

  • Gynecomastia
  • Worsened sleep apnea
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Increased blood cell count
  • Fluid retention
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clotting

Some side effects such as fluid retention may subside as you progress through therapy, while others may persist and worsen as treatment continues. Make sure to discuss your medical history and all pre-existing medical conditions with your physician so they can determine the best approach to your therapy and help you to avoid experiencing serious side effects.

What Is Known About Hormone Therapy and the Risk of Cancer?

Unfortunately, undergoing hormone therapy can increase the risks of certain cancers in both men and women. For men, the use of testosterone in HRT can lead to high androgen levels, which can cause prostate cells to grow and possibly lead to prostate cancer. The same applies to women who take estrogen as part of a hormone replacement therapy for menopause. Estrogen typically helps promote cell growth in the breast and the uterus, which can also feed breast, ovarian, and womb cancer. Make sure that you discuss the potential cancer risks of HRT with your physician if your family has a history of certain cancers. They can advise on the best way to approach treatment and provide other alternatives if they believe that undergoing hormone replacement may increase your risk of developing cancer and actually harm your health as a result of long-term treatment.

At Renew Vitality, our medical professionals offer regenerative hormone replacement therapy to help address a variety of hormone imbalances. The staff of physicians at our Low T clinics have years of experience administering hormone treatments that can help adults balance and maintain their hormone levels. By integrating safe and effective hormone-based medications with easy-to-manage fitness and diet plans, we can help you to regain your physical function, restore your energy and improve your overall health. Contact us at 1-800-785-3945 and schedule an appointment with a Renew Vitality physician at any of our hormone replacement clinics in the United States to learn more about what our HRT treatments can do for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Typically, if you’re experiencing overwhelming side effects as a result of hormone therapy, your physician will typically lower your prescribed dosage so your body can gradually adjust to the medicine to reduce the side effects.

Yes and no. Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment that focuses on optimizing and rebalancing several hormone levels (such as growth hormone and thyroid hormone) in your body, whereas testosterone replacement therapy only focuses on your testosterone levels.

Yes. By boosting your hormone levels, you can maintain a more youthful appearance and body structure.

That will all depend on the nature of your hormone imbalance, your medical history, and your pre-existing medical conditions or medications. Typically, your physician will be the best person to determine which HRT treatment will suit your needs based on these factors.

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