Hormone therapy, the lifestyle medication of the 21st century?
Female hormone replacement has been around for a while and is a well-recognised treatment for menopause. Menopause is associated with a range of symptoms including irregular periods, vaginal dryness, flushes and mood swings.
Although hormone replacement therapy (HTR) can significantly alleviate these symptoms, there are concerns regarding certain risks associated with the effects of excess hormones, including blood clots and certain cancers (breast and ovarian – although it’s worth noting that this risk is small).
Male hormone replacement on the other hand, is a new and popular approach in the US, and increasingly in the UK, to treat men with ‘low’ testosterone levels or the ‘male menopause’; a term used to describe the natural reduction in testosterone for some men in their early 30s. However, testosterone is a notoriously difficult hormone to test (both its level and its actual activity) making difficult to get male HRT right. Popular drugs include Human Growth Hormone which some men report makes them feel more energetic, maintains the feeling of being ‘lean’, and improves skin. The risks again are related to the effects of excess hormones in the human body including acne, decreased testicle size, fertility as well as cancer.
The use of hormone therapy for men has been well known in the fitness industry and studies estimate that almost 1 million men in the UK use some sort of hormone or anabolic therapy. This is a relatively high number and particularly significant as they are not typically supervised by a medical practitioner. Risks with anabolic steroids (often the same drugs used in male hormone replacement therapy) include diabetes, heart disease and liver failure.
Here’s what’s important:
The decision regarding hormone replacement should always be a medical one. Hormones are powerful drugs that are naturally produced in the human body. Inevitably, replacing a hormone that is not lowwill affect the body’s production of natural hormones. While side-effects vary, they can be serious and in some cases life-threatening.
Make sure you are well-informed, speak to an impartial specialist who will approach your health from a holistic perspective and work on improving all aspects of your health and lifestyle before you reach for the medicine drawer.