Hormone Replacement Therapy Considerations

Hormone replacement therapy describes the medical practice of replacing hormones in the body. A few of the most popular hormones in our body include sex hormones such as Testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, growth hormone, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, insulin, adrenaline, and oxytocin. Hormones are chemicals that behave like messenger molecules that control our bodies.

Sex hormones that dominate include estrogens and progesterone in women and Testosterone in men. Progesterone is a dominant female hormone affecting the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryologic growth. In contrast, Testosterone is the main male sex hormone responsible for muscle growth and libido. As its name suggests, growth hormone promotes the growth of all aspects of your body. Growth pertains to cellular growth, reproduction, and regeneration. 

Testosterone increases growth hormone production and is conversely inhibited by cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that controls your stress response. What makes cortisol a critical player is that it affects all other hormones in your body. For example, it inhibits the production of Testosterone and growth hormone.

Although it is typically considered a steroid and, in theory, should suppress a hyperactive immune response. Immune cells can become resistant to cortisol; thus, higher levels of cortisol production are observed in this situation, thus indicating a hyper-immune response. Unfortunately, high cortisol levels present an adrenal crisis, whereby the cortisol is ineffective against the immune cells, yet it has a negative response against other beneficial hormones.

Insulin is a small protein hormone made by the pancreas that stimulates the entry of glucose into cells. In patients with diabetes, the body cells become resistant to insulin resulting in high blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance describes a continuum of metabolic disorders that progresses to prediabetes and, inevitably, full-blown diabetes.

The thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormone and controls your entire metabolism. When considering hormone replacement therapy, measuring your thyroid levels is a critical first step since it affects all your body’s hormones. For example, hyperthyroidism may make your Testosterone falsely elevated. Conversely, hypothyroidism may make your Testosterone interpreted as falsely low.

Oxytocin is a small protein hormone made by the pituitary gland that controls your behavior and reproduction and is critical during childbirth. In childbirth, it is most famous for contracting the uterus to allow the fetus to be pushed through the birth canal. When moms have difficulty during childbirth, oxytocin may be administered to help contract the muscle of the birth canal to express the fetus. Adrenaline is also known as epinephrine and controls many of our organ functions, especially as a stress-controlling hormone. It is principally involved in the fight or flight response that we are all familiar with.

Hormone replacement therapy requires the global evaluation of hormones to determine the best-recommended cocktail. Global evaluation of hormones is more critical in women clients with a more complex array of hormones affecting their body and reproductive cells. In men, evaluating Testosterone, insulin, and thyroid levels usually suffice. To begin your journey with hormone replacement therapy, a consultation with a physician is necessary.  

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