Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men
Hormone therapy for men is a long-standing medical practice to treat symptoms of aging for many years. Male hormone therapy (MHT) may assist men feeling like themselves again following prostate surgery or prostratectomy. Many men who suffer symptoms that include tiredness, depression, weight gain, and decreased libido may
benefit from hormone therapy as an adjunct to their health care treatment regimen. Men who are interested in hormone therapy as an adjunct to their prostate cancer treatment are advised to consult with their doctor. Male hormone therapy may also be recommended for men who are experiencing low testosterone levels and symptoms associated with it.
Male Hormone Therapy (MHT) is administered in several ways. One of the most commonly used is with injections of synthetic hormones into the testes, which are then released into the bloodstream. The other method is with pills that contain either testosterone or estrogen. Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT), which is identical to that found in natural male hormones, has also been used to treat symptoms of aging. Pellets used in BHRT are typically custom-manufactured hormones created using soy.
Symptoms of aging, including the reduction of sexual desire, fatigue, loss of energy levels, depression, irritability, joint pain and stiffness, decreased libido, increased body hair, decreased energy levels and muscle mass, have all been associated with decreased production of sex hormones by the pituitary gland. Testosterone, the primary male hormone, is the primary cause of these symptoms because it is the hormone responsible for the production of testosterone.
When BHRT is used, testosterone is blocked from its effects by the body’s own production of the hormone. Since the body can no longer produce the excess hormones, there is a time lag between when the symptoms begin to occur and when hormone therapy for men begins to relieve symptoms.
Because BHRT uses synthetic hormones and only low doses of them, there are some serious side effects of this form of hormone therapy for men. They include: an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, elevation of cholesterol levels, an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, abnormal bone growth, and an increased chance of osteoporosis. Some of these side effects may subside after continued use of the therapy, but others may become more severe and permanent.
In addition to the negative side effects noted above, BHRT has also been linked to several cases of cancer. Some of these cases have since been proven to be the result of exposure to the radiation given off by the radioactive substance used in the testing of BHRT. While the amount of radiation was not enough to cause cancer, it was found that long-term exposure could have certain effects on the body. There have also been reports of a variety of cancers developing in areas of the brain that are responsible for producing testosterone, in what is known as hypothalamic dysfunction. Men with this condition have been reported to experience impotence, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection.
The negative side effects associated with BHRT were recently highlighted in a major review article published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. The article reviewed over forty studies that had been performed on the subject. It was found that, when BHRT was being used to treat testosterone deficiencies, there was an increase in the occurrence of cancer in the treated patients. In some instances, women who had developed breast cancer during the course of their BHRT treatments had died due to other causes.
The review did not identify how the women became ill or died, but concluded that further research was needed to monitor the safety of hormone therapy for men. As with many other health conditions, the increased cancer rate seen with BHRT suggests that further research should be conducted to evaluate the safety of this form of treatment.