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What Is KirklandHormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT (also known as hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy, and estrogen replacement therapy) uses female hormones — estrogen and progesterone — to treat common symptoms of menopause and aging. Doctors can prescribe it during or after menopause.
After your period stops, your hormone levels fall, causing uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and sometimes conditions like osteoporosis. Kirkland HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Tender breasts or enlargement of breasts:
Men have some testosterone that gets converted to estrogen but normally isn't enough to cause estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia (breast enlargement) But when taking supplemental doses of testosterone, particularly through hormone replacement therapy, much of it is converted to estradiol. The result of which, is feminized characteristics in men such as enlarge breasts.
There have been no reports of liver toxicity from transdermal testosterone replacement. However, for those on oral testosterone replacement, there have been a significant number of men reported to have developed liver problems. Incidentally, this is also the reason why all manufacturers of hormone replacement medications are now mentioning the possibility of liver failure when using their products.
One of the most important side effects of testosterone replacement therapy is the increase in the red blood cell mass and hemoglobin levels (Polycythemia). This is particularly true of older men as the increase of blood cell mass may lead to the possibility of heart attacks, strokes or peripheral clotting in the veins.
Hormone replacement therapy for men can cause prostate growth. Prostate growth can cause problems with urination or at worse, may promote the growth of cancerous prostate cells. It is noteworthy to state that prostate cancer is a common cancer for older men and the second most common cause of cancer deaths.
Although menopause is just one of the phases of life, its symptoms often prove to be detrimental to a normal and active lifestyle of a career woman of today. So most of the women today undergo hormone therapy to get rid of these symptoms like hot flash, moderate to severe vaginal dryness and related discomforts. There are cases where even the younger women take the help of hormone therapy to treat the conditions in which ovaries do not produce sufficient estrogens naturally.
In its more advanced stage, hormone therapy is also being recommended for reducing the risk of heart disease and the debilitating disease of osteoporosis.
In order to alley the risks as far as possible, doctors suggest a continued treatment for 10 to 20 years or even throughout one's lifetime.
Hormone therapy is a procedure for receiving additional estrogen and progesterone in the body and there are several ways to take these hormones into your body. You can pop hormone pills. You can use them as topical medicines for your vaginal treatments. They can also get inside your body as implants or you can take the hormones through injections.
The normal women who have their uterus have to take a combination of estrogen and progesterone. This is because estrogen alone greatly increases a woman's risk of uterine cancer. The progesterone neutralizes this risk factor. The women who have had their uterus removed however are prescribed estrogen alone. This is known as "estrogen replacement therapy" (ERT).
There are many women who experience menopause before they are forty. Sometimes this happens naturally. Sometimes it is the result of surgery to remove the ovaries. Radiation or chemotherapy are also sometimes responsible for advancing menopause in the lives of certain women. Whatever may be the cause, in these cases of early menopause hormone or estrogen therapy becomes particularly essential to counter the effects of a premature drop in estrogen levels.
A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.
Risks associated with HRT
There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.
Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.
Hormone replacement therapy risks
- Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
- Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
- Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
- Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
- Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
- Higher risk of developing gall stones
Hormone replacement benefits
- Relief of menopause related complaints
- Increases bone density
- Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
- Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging
The side effects of HRT
Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.
- Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
- Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
- Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
- Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
- Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
- Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
- Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use
Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.
The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.
One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.
Hormone Therapy: What It Is and How It Can Help You
The debate as to whether bio-identical hormone therapy trumps other forms of hormone therapies that seek to reverse the effects of menopause is still a raging one. The key here is to find out if the risks outweigh the benefits, or vise versa. The hormones in bio-identical therapy are chemically identical to your body's hormones. Although estrogen and progesterone from this therapy are not known to increase the risk of breast cancer, other constituent components, the likes of synthetic progestins; medroxyprogesterone acetate heighten that risk.
Although hormone therapy is a delicate balance, bio-identical therapy does have its benefits. It is known to result in lesser bleeding, but, like any hormone therapy; they don't have this same effect on everyone. A history in cancer, blood clots and other conditions are usually red flags for people considering bio-identical therapy. Some women tend not to respond to the therapy, as they should, laying testament to the fact that hormone therapy is far from an exact science.
Lifestyle is another key aspect of hormonal therapy that is perennially downplayed. In the same way that pathological smoking and alcohol consumption may speed up your transition to menopause, these habits could as well cause an adverse reaction to any type of hormonal therapy. Note that there are many variables here, ergo; one should consult a physician or pharmacist specialist before taking any steps. The efficacy of bio-identical therapy could be highly dependent on slight lifestyle changes that may make all the difference. Finally, bio-identical components are run through a rigorous quality assurance process, plant synthesized, and are fitted to suit individual hormonal needs.
As opposed to many hormone therapies, bioidentical hormone therapy actually uses natural hormones that are found in the human body. Other therapies may use similar, synthetic hormones to perform treatment. Hormone therapies have helped many men and women replenish hormone levels that may be diminished thanks to certain medical conditions such as menopause or andropause.
Bioidentical hormone therapy has been beneficial to women going through menopause or early menopause. This therapy has helped treat the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, mood swings, weight gain and decreased libido. This treatment helps to replace the natural hormones that may be at decreased levels during this time.
Men may also be candidates for this therapy as well. Andropause has been described as the male menopause and is described as the gradual reduction of androgens in the body. Symptoms of this condition may include weight gain, decreased libido, fatigue, stress and energy loss. Through this treatment, many men have successfully replaced their natural hormones and have found relief from these symptoms.
The Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
Testosterone is a hormone, which is produced primarily in the testes of a human male. It helps to maintain bone density, sperm production, muscle strength and sex drive too. The levels of this hormone peak during the adolescent years and early stages of adulthood too. However, the level of testosterone gradually declines with age. It is estimated that it decreases 1% every year after the age of 30. In fact, it is believed to occur in 18 percent of 70-year-olds.
With a decline in testosterone levels, men notice physical and emotional changes accompanied with reduced sexual desire and sleep disturbances too. However, physicians across the world are recommending testosterone replacement therapy. It is believed to help improve libido, bone density and body composition.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
- Increased energy levels: An increase in lean body mass, which leads to development of muscle will boost energy levels in individuals who undergo the therapy. This would imply increased ability to take up physical activity too.
- Better sex life: There has been a noticeable improvement in the sex lives of individuals who have undergone the therapy. Especially people with an erectile dysfunction have noticed significant improvement upon restoration of the hormone level.
- There is a reduced possibility of osteoporosis due to optimized bone density upon therapy and this reduces the risk of fractures too.
- Most importantly, it improves the basic quality of life. With more energy and a better sex life, the therapy helps improve the lifestyle of men who have dealt with problems due to reduced testosterone.
Learn more about male hormone replacement therapy and see if it is the right option for you.