For years hormone replacement therapy has been thought of as a ‘female’ thing, most commonly used by women after menopause to relieve uncomfortable symptoms.
“Especially if they are interfering with the activities of daily living. A lot of women get to the point where they can’t sleep, they can’t function, they have a fog almost like a brain fog and they can’t work,” says Dr. Mala Singh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
For a number of years HRT got a bad rap, linking it to severe health conditions, but new studies find it safe and effective to help low risk patients.
“If you want good quality of life that’s one of the options for you- if you’re really being affected by it,” says Dr. Singh.
The biggest change in hormone therapy is the huge increase in people using it; mostly due to men taking testosterone. In the same way age affects women, men realize they can turn back symptoms by replenishing hormones.
“When you are young you have high levels and as you age those levels gradually decrease. It can lead to a lot of symptoms and side effects from low testosterone that can be bothersome,” says Dr. James Borden, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
They include low energy, muscle weakness, weight gain, bone density and low sex drive. The demand for treatment tripled over a 10 year period. It is only recommended for men with low-t levels, generally under 200.
“If you’re symptomatic from low testosterone it can be a dramatic improvement it really increase your energy and well-being,” says Dr. Borden.
They might work wonders, but there is no such thing as a magic pill. When you stop taking them, the benefits go away.
“Even if you replace the hormones you can’t be on it forever. At some point you’ll have to get off them,” says Dr. Singh.