What does hormone replacement therapy mean?

Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is a commonly used treatment, prescribed after a medical consultation, to correct imbalances in hormones such as male and female hormones. Familiar types of HRT are oestrogen patches, testosterone patches and more recently, bioidentical hormone preparations.

HRT is prescribed for women in the perimenopause, menopause and for those who suffer with pre-menstrual tension.

For men, testosterone replacement is prescribed when there is a diagnosis of testosterone deficiency following the development of symptoms.

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that your glands (thyroid, ovary, pituitary to name a few) produce. They are taken to all parts of your body through your blood. Once a hormone reaches its target, it instructs the organ on how it should behave.

Here are some of the processes that hormones regulate in our bodies:

  • General growth and development.
  • Your mood and how prone you are to irritability and stress
  • Sexual function and libido
  • Menstrual cycle (your periods)
  • How much you feel the heat and cold
  • Your body temperature
  • Metabolic rate and energy levels
  • Appetite, hunger and bowel function
  • Memory and recall
  • heart rate
  • how well you sleep (or not)

Men are affected mainly by imbalances in testosterone levels, while women will be affected most by changes in their levels of oestrogen and progesterone.

Hormone imbalances that affect both men and women involve insulin (diabetes), growth hormones, and thyroid hormones.

Symptoms of hormone imbalance

Before planning hormone therapy, it is important to take a full medical history. This helps to find out what is the underlying cause of your symptoms and which hormones are causing them.

Here are some symptoms of hormonal imbalance:

  • Anxiety or irritability

  • Feeling tired all the time