As you age, your hormone levels decline, resulting in various health concerns including decreased energy and sexual interest; increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity and cancer; a decrease in muscle mass; impaired psychological function; and dyslipidemia (an elevation of lipids in the blood). But there is hope—hormone treatments (HTs) which can counteract your body’s natural decline in hormones.
What are hormones?
Hormones are substances released by an endocrine gland and transported through the blood stream to tissue, where they act to regulate the functions of the target tissue. As they age, both men and women experience a natural hormone decline. The main difference between a man’s hormones and a woman’s hormones is sexual: Men have testosterone, and women have estrogen and progesterone. Both sexes also have the following types of hormones: human growth hormones (HGH), DHEA, melatonin, thyroid and cortisol.
One common treatment involves the ingestion of bioidentical hormones—chemically synthesized hormones that have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. Some bioidentical hormones are prepared by compounding pharmacies and some are available in brand form at most pharmacies.
Another treatment involves the injection of HGH. As with other hormones, natural HGH levels can decrease with normal aging; however, it can also be a result of pituitary disorders or traumatic head injuries. HGH treatments can be prescribed to those with Adult-Onset Human Growth Hormone Deficiency. The treatments consist of injections monitored closely by an experienced physician, as HGH affects other hormones and can lower their levels.
Like HGH, other specific hormones can be injected into the body of hormone-deficient patients. When your body is deficient in the DHEA hormone—the most abundant steroid in the body—you’ll feel fatigue, low libido, hot flashes, sleep loss, depression and impaired memory. Another possible deficiency is in melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. When treating this deficiency, beware that very high doses of melatonin can cause depression and psychosis.
Dr. Sarah Ghayouri M.D., is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. She was chosen as one of America’s top physicians in 2007, and has practiced in Georgia since 1995. She is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Geriatrics and the American Academy of AntiAging Medicine. She is the owner of Atlanta Wellness & Aesthetics, an anti-aging practice in Buckhead. www.atlantawellnessandaesthetics.com
According to the experts at the Anti-Aging and Vitality Center of Atlanta (AVC), most women begin experiencing symptoms of menopause and perimenopause in their 40s. Men suffer from a similar hormonal imbalance, as well—called andropause. “We do not lose our hormones because we age. We age because we lose our hormones,” says Michelle Fisher, M.D., with the AVC. “Early treatment can prevent future problems like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and changes in cognitive function.” According to the AVC’s experts, bioidentical hormones come from natural, botanical sources, and bioidentical estrogen usually comes in the form of a transdermal cream applied to the skin. “Patients often ask how long BHRT should last,” says Angela Coleman, M.D., with the AVC. “The answer—it’s your choice. It should last as long as you want to receive its many benefits.”