The Power Of HRT
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system. These vital chemicals move throughout the body to activate specific functions. For instance, in women, hormones dictate the menstrual cycle or play a part in menopause. For men, hormones like testosterone help with muscle growth, virility, and reproductive health. Both men and women also need specific hormones that come from the thyroid, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands. Sometimes, an underlying issue causes a hormone imbalance, leading to unpleasant symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) seeks to replenish the lost hormones and relieve these symptoms through medication. HRT comes in many forms, which are used based on the patient’s needs.
How is HRT administered?
HRT comes in different forms and is administered in different ways. The therapy is also specific to the individual’s ailment. Women with menopause, for instance, can benefit from HRT that contains estrogen and progestogen, or estrogen only. Men with low energy or reproductive challenges may need dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), or testosterone. If someone is suffering from hypothyroidism, HRT can help too. Some patients must take HRT continually, while others use a monthly or quarterly cycle. Doctors can prescribe HRT in oral or non-oral formulations. Pills, troches, and creams are the most common forms. Choosing the right one is difficult for many patients, but the decision depends on preference, effectiveness, and current lifestyle.
Dissolve your HRT
HRT as a troche is a small square with similar properties to a lozenge or cough drop. Medication in troche form is designed to dissolve, releasing the active ingredients slowly over time. Troche medication is placed between the gum and the inner cheek or under the tongue. The saliva helps break down the troche, and the drug quickly passes through thin skin to get into the circulatory system. An advantage is that the medicine can bypass the digestive system and the liver, avoiding possible side effects. More importantly, the patient may receive a more effective dose, as the hormones are not lost through digestion.
Take the pill
Patients needing HRT are more likely to use a pill form. Pill forms are easy to acquire, simple to use, and effective in releasing hormones into the body. As part of continuous HRT, pills can also be more cost-effective as the hormone will come in the precise dose the patient needs. However, there are some drawbacks to HRT in pill form. Some patients have difficulty swallowing pills, which can lead to non-adherence. Additionally, pills must go through the digestive system and get processed by the liver. Hormones are not created in the gut, which may limit what’s needed in the bloodstream. The liver can also become distressed with excess hormones, leading to unpleasant side effects.
Let’s go topical
Are creams a viable option? Hormone therapy can be topical, where the patient applies the medicine to the skin. The skin absorbs the treatment into the circulatory system, which can then use the hormones effectively. Creams, like pills, are easy to acquire and are helpful for people who cannot swallow pills. Like troches, creams bypass the digestive system, reducing side effects. While creams are convenient, there are some concerns. The skin has different degrees of thickness and underlying layers of fat. Therefore, the cream can be effective in some places and ineffective in others. The dosage is also up to the application of the patient. If the patient places too much or too little cream, the therapy can be ineffective. Creams can also cause skin irritation for those with sensitive skin, so the areas must be changed constantly.
Which form should you choose?
The form will be based on the patient’s health, lifestyle, dosage, and a bit of personal preference. If the patient is already taking multiple medications, a troche or cream form can avoid placing strain on the liver. Cyclical HRT with specific doses can benefit from pill form since these are single doses over a short timeframe. Continuous HRT in pill form, however, may impact the liver. Doctors, pharmacists, and endocrinologists are always willing to help individuals weigh the pros and cons to make the right decision.