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What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: February 24, 2023
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment offered to balance the lack of a certain hormone required in women and men. Women typically go on HRT as they reach menopause because they are suffering a variety of symptoms as listed below. Whereas men may try HRT when they feel the symptoms of low testosterone as it naturally decreases with age. The whole purpose of HRT is to remove the symptoms of hormone imbalance in men and women.

     

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    HRT for women and men

     

    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Men

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT and TRT) is a common treatment for men with low levels of testosterone. One of the causes of low testosterone is hypogonadism, which is a condition that prevents the body and testicles from preventing the correct amount of testosterone in the body. It is clear that low testosterone is something that heavily affects the male body, but what has yet to be proven definitively is whether hormone replacement therapy is the right choice for all men that are affected by low testosterone.

    While hormone replacement therapy is generally suitable for those that are affected with low testosterone due to external factors, it is not yet known if it is a suitable treatment for those that suffer from low testosterone as a result of the natural ageing process.

    Low testosterone symptoms and HRT

    If you are considering HRT, you may have experienced some of the symptoms associated with hypogonadism. Alternatively, you may be wondering which symptoms you want to look out for if you are trying to diagnose low testosterone or the root cause, hypogonadism. Here are some of the most common symptoms of hypogonadism that may be able to be treated using HRT methods:

    There are other symptoms of hypogonadism, but these are the symptoms that are most commonly associated with it. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is possible that you have hypogonadism and that you are a good candidate for HRT or TRT.

    Symptoms of Low Testosterone and HRT

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    Causes of Hypogonadism

    If you have hypogonadism, there are several reasons that might be causing it. This is a complicated condition, and you must work closely with your medical professional or doctor to find the root cause of it. Hypogonadism is a condition that affects your body’s ability to produce testosterone at a suitable level. There are two types of hypogonadism, primary hypogonadism, and secondary hypogonadism.

    In primary hypogonadism, the testicles are in a state where they are not responding to stimulation that is designed to create hormones. This could be due to a disorder or disease and is often caused by chemotherapy, tumours, mumps, or injury to the testicles.

    In secondary hypogonadism, there is something interfering with the two glands that are in charge of telling the body to produce testosterone. These two glands are the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Without these glands communicating properly, your body will be unable to properly produce testosterone and you will suffer from the symptoms that are associated with low testosterone.

    Here are some of the most common reasons for hypogonadism:

    • Poor diet
    • Illness
    • Stress
    • Side effects of medication
    • Liver condition
    • Obesity
    • Alcohol and drugs

    Any of these can put you at risk of primary or secondary hypogonadism.

     

    Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy for men

    If you are interested in hormone replacement therapy or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), you should know that there are a couple of different options. The treatment that you seek for your low testosterone will largely depend on the conversation about your health between you and your doctor. Always be sure to consult with your medical professional to ensure you get the right therapy for you.

     

    Intramuscular Testosterone Injections

    Injections are one of the most effective ways to increase testosterone and regulate the level of hormones in the body. In this method, the doctor or your medical professional will inject testosterone and hormones directly into the muscles. This typically occurs on the buttocks and is done at a frequency of 2 to 3 weeks. While this is one of the most effective ways to get the right hormone into your bloodstream. the risk with this method is that the hormone boost you experience is front-loaded instead of being evenly distributed over time.

    Testosterone Patches

    Patches are a highly convenient way to receive hormone replacement therapy and that is why it’s one of the most popular methods that is used. Patches are applied on a daily basis and administer the correct hormones to the back, arms, abdomen, or buttocks. When you use patches, it is recommended that you alternate the patch area for the best results. Patches are great because they can be stored under your clothes, and are very easy to take with you while you are out of the house.

    Testosterone Gel

    Gel is another easy way to administer hormone replacement therapy. This is, as the name implies, a medical gel that contains testosterone. Gel is convenient to apply, but it may be inconvenient to have gel on under your clothing. In addition, you must avoid direct contact with other people in the areas the gel is applied to. This is because it can transfer hormones to any person that touches it.

     

    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Women

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically used to treat women to relieve symptoms of menopause. HRT works by replacing hormones that are at a lower level than they should be.

    menopause symptoms and HRT

    Menopause symptoms and HRT:

    1. Hot flushes
    2. Night sweats
    3. Mood swings
    4. Vaginal dryness
    5. Reduced sex drive

    Most of these symptoms will naturally pass over a few years, however, they are often unpleasant and HRT is one way of relieving symptoms for many women.

    What are the main Risks of HRT for women?

    As with any medical treatment, there are risks. However, the benefits of HRT outweigh any risks that come with it. To find out more about HRT and gain clarity in your decision please speak to one of our consultants today.

    What are the risks of HRT for men and women?

    Hormone replacement therapy is a very effective way of helping to raise the level of testosterone in the male body, but as with other treatments, there are some risks and side effects that may come along with it. In order to decide if HRT is the right choice for you, you need to be aware of these potential drawbacks. Some of the side effects that come along with hormone therapy are fluid retention, acne, and increased urination. Other side effects include infertility, decreased sperm count, increased cholesterol levels, worsening of existing sleep apnea, decrease in testicle size, and breast enlargement.

    One of the conditions that might occur in men receiving hormone replacement therapy is an increased number of blood cells. Increased count of red blood cells can cause further issues and side effects including muscle pain, blood clots, chest pain, blurry vision, and high blood pressure. If you have these side effects, speak to your doctor or get in contact with us below.

     

    Why go on Hormone Replacement Therapy?

    There are several different reasons that a doctor might prescribe a treatment such as HRT, but the root cause of any HRT treatment is the lowered levels of testosterone that may exist in the body. This condition is often attributed to hypogonadism, which refers to the condition in which a male’s testicles are failing to produce enough testosterone for the body to perform critical functions. There are times when men are born with hypogonadism, but many develop the condition as they age. Some of the symptoms of this condition are a lowered sex drive, lowered testosterone, impotence, less body and facial hair, and also osteoporosis.

    Hypogonadism is often diagnosed with a blood test that is conducted by a doctor. Following the blood test to diagnose hypogonadism, doctors will often prescribe hormone replacement therapy as a method for replacing the missing testosterone. With hormone replacement therapy, men can often see the levels of testosterone in their body return to normal and healthy levels, which helps to reverse the effect of the side effects that come along with it.

    Naturally, men often see the level of testosterone in their body decline starting after age 40. This decline is typically very gradual. Usually, doctors and medical professionals will not recommend that otherwise healthy men who do not have hypogonadism take hormone replacement therapy. If your testosterone decline is not due to natural processes, your doctor may recommend HRT.  Without these guidelines, there are certain risks that apply to men who choose HRT and who are experiencing a natural decline in their testosterone. These side effects include sleeping problems, infertility, stroke, and disorders of the prostate.

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    Conclusion

    Hormone Replacement Therapy is a treatment used by thousands of men and women each year. If you are experiencing low testosterone symptoms, then HRT/TRT may be a good option for you. On the other hand, if you are a woman and are going through menopause and trying to cope with the symptoms mentioned above, you may want to consider speaking to us about our HRT treatment options. Now that you know how HRT works, you have more insight as to whether it is the right option for you.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

    We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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    Last update: February 24th, 2023
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