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Anti-Aging: Hormone Replacement

By New You Editorial
Posted On May 04, 2011

As we age, the panoply of hormones that flood our biological systems when we are young dissipates. There are some exceptions—hormones that increase as we age, with negative effects—but most are essential to our youthful levels of energy, physical and mental. Under proper medical care, these hormones are replaced and properly balanced.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) refers to this balancing of hormones for optimal health and wellness. Hormone replacement of estrogen, testosterone and other hormones in women and men via creams, pellet therapy or other methods increases female and male libido, weight loss, muscle tone and decreases menopause, andropause and more.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a complex protein hormone of 191 amino acids that is produced in the anterior pituitary, a gland attached to the Hypothalamus, which is found at the base of the brain. Like testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, melatonin or DHEA, HGH is one of many endocrine hormones that decline with age. Starting in our 20’s, HGH secretion declines anywhere between 10% to 20% per decade; by 50 you only secrete 25% as much as the average 20 year old.

The decline in HGH contributes to the acceleration of the aging process. In women, it signals menopause; in men – male menopause, aka andropause. When replaced, HGH improves skin elasticity and tone; increases energy; improves bone density; increases sexual desire and potency; increases muscle strength; helps with weight loss; improves memory; increases cardiovascular strength; improves the immune system; lowers bad cholesterol; improves mood.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics. Testosterone is also important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, bone density, sense of wellbeing, and sexual and reproductive function.

As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life. The significance of this decline is controversial and poorly understood, but typically does not result in erectile dysfunction (ED), though its replacement usually results in an increase in sexual desire. Among the symptoms of testosterone deficiency are:

  • decreased sex drive
  • decreased sense of well-being
  • depressed mood
  • difficulties with concentration and memory
  • a decrease in muscle mass, with an increase in body fat
  • variable effects on cholesterol metabolism
  • a decrease in hemoglobin and possibly mild anemia
  • fragile bones (osteoporosis)

The only accurate way to detect the condition is to have your doctor measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. This sometimes may take several measurements, since levels of testosterone tend to fluctuate throughout the day. The highest levels of testosterone are generally in the morning.

Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy

Female hormone replacement therapy includes supplementing the body with either estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone in combination during and after menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that are produced by a woman’s ovaries. When the ovaries no longer produce adequate amounts of these hormones (as in menopause), hormone replacement therapy can supplement these levels.

Estrogen and progesterone together thicken the lining of the uterus, preparing it for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg. Estrogen also influences how the body uses calcium, important for strong bones, and helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood. Estrogen also keeps the vagina healthy.

As menopause nears, the ovaries reduce most of their production of these hormones. Lowered or fluctuating estrogen levels may cause menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, and medical conditions such as osteoporosis.

Hormone therapy helps to replenish the estrogen, relieving some of the effects of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms such as night sweat, and dry, itchy skin.

Other benefits of female HRT include a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis and reduced risk of bone breakage; the improvement of mood and overall sense of mental wellbeing in some women; decreased tooth loss; lowered risk of colon cancer.

While female HRT helps many women get through menopause, the treatment is not risk-free. Known health risks include an increased risk of endometrial cancer (if a woman still has her uterus and is not taking progesterone along with estrogen); increased risk of blood clots and stroke; increased risk of heart disease in older women. These can be explained by your doctor.