Symptoms of hormone deficiency in women arises by the beginning of the fifth decade. Extraneously administered hormones may reverse symptoms of depletion and as long as blood levels and possible side effects of the hormones are monitored, their use may help retain youthful function. The principle aim of our service is to help you maintain optimal function until late in life. Assessment of cardiovascular health and the risk of cancer are important equally for women and men (see Healthy Ageing), while lifestyle adjustments and the treatment of hormone deficiency, despite controversy, remain important considerations.
Replacement of oestrogens and progesterone (with synthetic variants, eg progestagens) has been possible since the 1950’s. Main benefits are the reduction of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings and the maintenance of energy, libido and bone density.
Benefits of HRT are considered alongside the risk profile for each individual. For example HRT taken for more than five years increases slightly the risk of breast cancer. If there is a family history of breast cancer this risk will be increased further. It‘s therefor important for each individual to set benefits against risks and to monitor the risk with health checks: mammograms and physical examination.
As young adults many of us took health for granted. At this age many hormones are at peak levels. However, by our mid-forties although a decline in hormone levels is not yet significant, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and ‘living in the fast lane’ lead to less certainty of good health. Early signs of future problems may be no more than a loss of resilience after a night out, reduced immunity to infection, weight gain, loss of muscle tone or disturbed sleep.
It is only in our fifties that reducing levels of hormones give rise to symptoms and signs. Tiredness, emotional flatness, loss of libido, aching joints, flushing or sweating attacks, poor skin texture and dryness of skin, hair and brittle nails are some of the many possible indicators of hormone depletion. Reduced levels of hormones can be measured in the blood and can often be corrected with accompanying recovery from the presenting symptoms.
This method of HRT emphasises the benefit of using a variety of hormones, usually in smaller amounts, to orchestrate their overall effect on energy and well being. These may include metabolic precursors of the sex hormones, DHEA and pregnenolone, as well as testosterone, melatonin and thyroid hormones.
Natural HRT properly refers to the use of hormones which are identical in structure to those normally present , hence natural to the body. The term bio-identical is now preferred as the term natural can be confusing - what is significant is the molecular structure of the component steroid, its purity. Whether it is synthesised in the lab or derived from a plant or animal source is immaterial.