Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT for short, is a treatment option for women who have recently gone through menopause. HRT is most commonly prescribed to alleviate the many physical and emotional symptoms that can arise as a result of declining estrogen levels in the body. Many women go through menopause and are not even aware of the many positive effects that hormone therapy can have on their bodies. As a result of the growing awareness of the many benefits of HRT, more and more women are choosing to go through the treatment as a means of weight loss. Can HRT assist you in your struggle to lose weight? Read on to find out more.
The Many Forms Of HRT
There are two basic forms of HRT, or rather two broad categories of hormone therapy:
- Oral HRT, which is the most common form of HRT and
- Non-oral HRT, which is rarely used and only administered by injection or implantation.
Oral HRT is delivered in the form of pills, capsules, or tablets and is the most convenient and the most popular option for HRT. It can be taken either once or twice daily and has the advantage of being relatively discreet. In addition, you do not need to deal with needles and are therefore less likely to develop a resistance to the treatment. Oral HRT is available in a variety of forms, including combinations of different hormones, which are designed to target different body parts and ailments. For instance, some of the more common forms of oral HRT are:
- Estrogen – oral estrogen is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats
- Progesterone – oral progesterone is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as depression and anxiety
- Aromatase – oral aromatase inhibitor is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats as well as in cases of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Combined Estrogen-Progesterone – a combination of oral estrogen and progesterone is used to treat menopausal symptoms and PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
The various forms of oral HRT have distinct advantages and disadvantages. While oral estrogen is very easy to take and does not pose any risk of causing damage to the body, it has a number of disadvantages. For instance, oral estrogen has a tendency to raise cholesterol levels, which is bad for your cardiac health. In addition, estrogen is one of the most common causes of osteoporosis in women. Finally, women who take estrogen suffer from an increase in the size of their breasts, which is something many women find undesirable. As a result, some prefer to avoid oral estrogen altogether and opt for other forms of HRT.
Non-oral HRT is delivered in a more controlled fashion via injection or implantation. It can be given to patients by a doctor or nurse in a medical setting and is often prescribed as a way of delivering higher doses of hormones with greater accuracy and fewer side effects. Non-oral HRT is available in a variety of forms, including injections, implants, and a variety of gel formulations. The forms of non-oral HRT are designed to target specific body parts and ailments. For instance, some of the more common applications for non-oral HRT are:
- Injections – are given directly under the skin and are used to deliver hormones to target body parts such as the hip, chest, or forearm
- Implants – small hormone-releasing devices are surgically inserted under the skin and are used to release hormones into the body for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, PMS, and PCOS
- Gel Formulations – gel formulations for the topical and oral delivery of hormones are available for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and PCOS. The various forms of non-oral HRT have distinct advantages and disadvantages. While injection and implantation are more accurate and ensure greater patient compliance, they pose a higher risk of infection due to the need for needles and surgical procedures to place them. In addition, repeated injections can cause the body to develop tolerance to the treatment, which in turn makes the patient need for the treatment increase. Finally, many women find injections and implants to be less discreet, especially if they are given in a visible area such as the belly.
Reduces Cholesterol And Triglycerides
One of the most common side effects of HRT is a decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In fact, many doctors consider HRT to be the perfect weight loss therapy since it not only helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, but also decreases the overall risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, HRT has been shown to increase high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, levels in the blood, which are known to protect the body against cardiovascular disease. HDL is also known as good cholesterol, as it helps remove cholesterol and triglycerides from the blood. Many of the more common forms of HRT can help to raise HDL levels by as much as 25%, which is a clinically relevant amount.
As a result of reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as increased HDL levels, HRT has been proven to help to protect the body against obesity, which is one of the major causes of Type 2 diabetes. In the long term, HRT has also been demonstrated to help to prevent Type 2 diabetes in patients with PCOS. In addition to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing HDL levels, HRT can also help to prevent Type 2 diabetes by directly inhibiting the activity of hepatic lipase, an enzyme that breaks down lipids.
Another major effect of HRT is to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weak bones, which lead to an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is caused by hormonal changes as you age, but it can also be a side effect of certain medications. Osteoporosis is more common in women than men, and many doctors consider it to be the most common form of arthritis in women. While osteoporosis is more common in the elderly, it is not a disease that affects only adults. Children can also be diagnosed with osteoporosis, especially those who have been prematurely exposed to estrogen due to fetal alcohol exposure or premature menopause due to cancer treatment. Fortunately, there are many forms of HRT, or rather two categories of HRT, that can prevent osteoporosis, which physicians can prescribe to patients.