A fairly recent form of treatment is the introduction of hormones into the human body either to reintroduce hormones no longer produced by the body due to aging or to substitute other hormones in order to become naturally-reinforced hormones in the body. Known as Hormone Replacement Treatment, the hormones used have the same chemical structure, and are metabolized in the same way, as the hormones naturally made in the human body.
This treatment is commonly classified according to following purposes:
• Treatment of menopause
o This treatment is used to reintroduce female hormones no longer produced by the body in order to improve the health and well-being of women undergoing menopause (the cessation of menstrual flow).
• Androgen Replacement for Men
o Similar to the menopausal treatment for women, this treatment helps reduce or delay the negative effects of male aging, such as hypogonadism and loss of testicular function.
• Cross-Sex Treatment for Transgender People
o This is used to introduce into the body either testosterone (for trans men) or estrogen (for trans women) in order to facilitate the physical transition of the patient into the gender identified with.
These programs are facilitated by evaluating the patient’s medical history and a personal consultation with a hormone specialty pharmacist.
Increase in treatment use among women
Most women generally experience menopause around the ages of 51-55. It is during the 5-10 years leading up to a woman’s menopause, called the transition years, that women experience the worst of the symptoms of aging. Some of the symptoms of decreased estrogen production are insomnia, increased visceral fat, vaginal atrophy, painful sexual intercourse, mental confusion, overall fatigue or tiredness with headaches, and osteoporosis. Some have even reported cases of anxiety and cyclical depression.
The most standard treatment for estrogen deficiency caused by aging is the intake of medications consisting of female hormones to artificially boost hormonal levels. This treatment is used in order to replace the hormones no longer produced by the body due to menopause. The hormone levels are restored using sublingual troches, oral tablets and transdermal gels and creams.
The premise of the medication is that regular intake of the diminished hormones (estrogen and progesterone) may prevent the discomfort brought about by aging, prolong one’s life, and minimize the incidence of dementia.
The treatments are best prescribed to patients experiencing the symptoms described, particularly those with lower bone density. Following the results of a 2002 American study on the use of hormones on aging patients resulted in increased heart attacks and strokes among the patients, influenced most of the opinions among medical practitioners regarding the use of these treatments. Some have expressed negative opinions regarding their use claiming that there is no sufficient proof to claim the effectiveness of these treatments on the human body since the results are considered non-conclusive. Moreover, others claim that the effectiveness of these treatments may only last for a short period of time. A few others have also expressed the possibility of these treatments becoming more detrimental than effective to the patient’s health and well-being.
However, the negative effects reported in the study have been subsequently retracted by the study’s investigators due to the wrong dosage used on the patients. Subsequent reports have also stated that the complications do not appear on women taking appropriate dosages of the hormones before reaching 60 years of age.
Moreover, many of these opinions have been overridden by the recent increase in the number of practitioners have prescribed the use of the Hormone Replacement Treatment particularly in cities like Englewood. More and more women have relied on and have considered the supplement intake as safe and natural ways to deal with the effects of menopause and aging.