Do you suffer from hot flashes, night sweats, or insomnia? That could be due to your age. Just one more reason it can be hard to age gracefully. With advances in medicine it has become commonplace for both men and women to seek hormone replacement therapy to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms caused by menopause, perimenopause, and low testosterone.

So, exactly what is hormone replacement therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy is a drug therapy that can balance the amount of naturally occurring hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in men and women. It can be administered in the form of injections, pills, creams, or vaginal rings or tablets. HRT can relieve the symptoms associated with aging in as little as 2-4 weeks. In some cases HRT is used to treat disease and in rare instances HRT may even be used as part of cancer treatments.

A human’s body produces over 50 different types of hormones. As men and women age, the natural levels of various hormones drop. This decrease can begin as early as age 25 but on average in a person’s 30’s. Women tend to notice symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and vaginal dryness around menopause. Men can experience low levels of testosterone that affect sleep, energy, mood, libido and performance at any age; however, it seems to become more evident when they are older.

What are the risks of hormone replacement therapy?

Although all of the hormones involved in HRT are naturally found in the body, there can be risks associated with treatment. The most common side effects are acne, hair loss or unwanted growth, and testicular atrophy. In some patients, increases in red blood cell counts may increase risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke. The risks associated depend on the individual’s genetic and medical history. When patients stop HRT treatments, their hormone levels will begin to return to their original levels prior to treatment. Some individuals may experience anxiety, unstable moods, or irregular sleep during this time.

What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy?

The benefits of hormone replacement therapy can vary widely depending on the individual and their treatment needs but include improved sleep and mental focus; more energy and physical stamina; fat loss and muscle gain; fewer aches and pain in joints; and restored libido and sexual performance. It also may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and even improve healthspan. Having skilled medical professionals monitor your treatment is important in reducing associated risks as well.

So, with this seemingly endless list of pros and cons, how should you decide whether or not hormone replacement therapy is for you? The experts at Foster Medical suggest that you look at your personal health history and speak with your doctor and a hormone specialist first. Do your research and make educated choices. No one is in more control of your health than you!