WellMedica

Hormone Therapy for Menopause and Andropause

When age-related hormone changes set in, you may struggle to maintain your energy levels, physical health, and sexual wellness. These changes, known as menopause and andropause, can ultimately compromise your quality of life. But, it doesn’t have to be this way!

Hormone therapy for menopause and andropause can alleviate uncomfortable symptoms while lowering your risk of hormone-related complications. Read on to learn more!

What Happens During Menopause? A Complete Picture

To understand exactly how hormone therapy helps alleviate menopause symptoms, let’s discuss the hormonal changes that occur at menopause.

Menopause can be separated into three distinct stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause:

  • In perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries starts to decline gradually. This begins the transition into menopause. The perimenopause stage often lasts for four to eight years, although it can be much shorter or longer in some individuals. 
    • Most people begin perimenopause in their mid to late 40s. 
  • Menopause is the point at which a woman hasn’t menstruated for 12 consecutive months (without other causes, like pregnancy or underlying medical conditions). Upon reaching menopause, the ovaries produce minimal levels of estrogen. 
    • Most people reach menopause in their early 50s. 
  • Postmenopause refers to the rest of life after reaching menopause. Menopause symptoms tend to improve gradually in this stage. 

Menopause Symptoms

Menopause symptoms often begin in perimenopause and may persist for several years. These symptoms result from dropping estrogen and progesterone levels. 

Estrogen and progesterone play many crucial roles in the female body, helping to promote bone strength, brain function, libido, skin health, and fat metabolism. As the ovaries produce less of them in menopause, you may experience far-ranging symptoms, including:

  • Mood changes, including irritability or feeling low
  • Brain fog, difficulty focusing, and memory problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems, which can contribute to irritability during the day
  • Night sweats and hot flashes
  • Skin changes, including dryness, oiliness, or adult acne
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Increased facial hair
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Joint pain, stiffness, or achiness
  • Low libido (sex drive)
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Recurrent UTIs (urinary tract infections)
  • Reduced bladder control, including the sudden urge to urinate and leakage while laughing, sneezing, or exercising
  • Increased body fat 

Possible Medical Complications of Menopause

With low estrogen levels, women after menopause have a higher risk of certain medical conditions, including:

  • Osteoporosis: Decreasing estrogen levels leads to decreasing bone mass. This can lead to osteoporosis, a condition involving low bone density and an increased risk of bone fractures. 
  • Heart disease: Reduced estrogen levels alter how your body processes fat. This can cause fat to accumulate in the arteries, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks. 
  • Stroke: Menopause (particularly early menopause, or menopause before 40) increases the risk of stroke from blocked blood vessels. 

Andropause: The “Male Menopause”

While men don’t undergo menopause, they experience age-related hormonal changes of their own. Commonly referred to as “andropause”, this stage results from declining testosterone production, and it commonly occurs in men’s late 40s to early 50s. 

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It affects libido, bone and muscle mass, physical stamina, fat distribution, sperm production, and red blood cell production. Around age 40, total testosterone levels decrease an average of 1.6% annually, which may lead to andropause symptoms in later adulthood. 

Factors besides aging, including chronic stress, mental health conditions, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep quality, alcohol consumption, and smoking can also contribute to andropause.

Since andropause isn’t a regular stage in the male reproductive cycle, as menopause is for women, not all men experience andropause symptoms. However, more than 480,000 older men are estimated to undergo this stage, making it a prevalent health concern among the aging male community. 

Andropause symptoms can vary, but may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Lost muscle mass
  • Low stamina
  • Low libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue and general lack of energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Gynecomastia 

Long-Term Risks of Andropause

Similar to menopause, low testosterone levels due to andropause can heighten men’s risk of various health conditions, including osteoporosis and cardiovascular conditions. 

Low testosterone also reduces red blood cell production. This can contribute to anemia, a condition associated with low blood cell count, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and dizziness, among other symptoms.

How Hormone Replacement Therapy Works for Menopause and Andropause

Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective way to alleviate menopause and andropause symptoms, as it replaces the hormones lost to these age-related processes. 

HRT for Menopause

Hormone replacement therapy for menopause involves replenishing the estrogen and progesterone that the ovaries no longer produce. This can dramatically improve women’s quality of life by:

  • Alleviating hot flashes, headaches, and migraines
  • Improving moodiness, irritability, and brain fog
  • Promoting high-quality sleep
  • Increasing energy levels and physical stamina
  • Boosting libido
  • Improving natural vaginal lubrication, which prevents painful sex and vaginal atrophy
  • Strengthening the hair, skin, and nails

Protection Against Medical Complications

We’ve already discussed how menopause can increase your risk of certain medical complications. In restoring optimal estrogen and progesterone levels, hormone replacement therapy can reduce your risk of these conditions in the postmenopause stage.

HRT for Andropause

Hormone replacement therapy for andropause involves restoring healthy testosterone levels in older men. This is also known as testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. TRT is proven to be a safe, effective way to alleviate andropause symptoms.

HRT for andropause improves men’s:

  • Cognitive performance
  • Physical stamina
  • Sexual performance and satisfaction
  • Energy levels
  • Fat metabolism 

TRT also reduces the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and anemia in men. 

What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?

Bioidentical hormone therapy, or BHRT, has become a popular form of hormone replacement therapy for menopause, andropause, and other hormonal imbalances. Unlike conventional synthetic hormones, which may be derived from animal sources, bioidentical hormones are taken from plant sources.

Additionally, bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to your body’s natural hormones. This may help reduce side effects and complications when compared to conventional hormones, which can pose the risk of blood clots, gallbladder disease, heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. 

At WellMedica, we use FDA-approved compounded bioidentical hormone pellets. They’ve been thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy in individuals with hormonal imbalances. These hormones bind to the hormone receptors like your body’s natural hormones, providing superior symptom relief.

Dr. Dima tailors the pellet dosage to suit each patient’s symptoms, hormone levels, and medical history. 

What to Expect From Bioidentical Hormone Therapy for Menopause or Andropause

Bioidentical hormone therapy for menopause and andropause is highly personalized, as each patient has unique needs. As a board-certified aesthetic and anti-aging physician, Dr. Dima at WellMedica has decades of experience helping older adults regain their vitality with bHRT. 

Here’s what you can expect from bioidentical hormone therapy for age-related hormonal imbalances:

Hormone Testing

Hormone testing is typically the first step in the process of receiving bHRT for menopause or andropause. Through blood, urine, or saliva samples, hormone testing identifies specific hormonal imbalances. It can also indicate whether the patient will benefit from ongoing hormone therapy. 

While hormone testing can provide important information to guide your treatment plan for bHRT, it’s important to consider that hormone levels consistently shift, even hour by hour. So, your Reston physician will primarily rely on reported symptom relief to determine if bHRT is effective for your needs. 

Hormone Forms

Hormone replacement therapy can be administered in many different forms, including pellets, patches, gels, creams, and shots.

Bioidentical hormone pellets automatically administer the precise amount of compounded hormone required. They don’t require the patient to remember to take a pill or administer a shot at the same time each day. This makes them a popular option among our Reston patients. 

Placing the compounded hormone pellet is a quick, painless in-office procedure. The physician will inject a small amount of local anesthetic to numb the treatment area. Then, a tiny incision is made in the skin, and a small trocar device is inserted beneath the skin, into the epidermis’s subcutaneous layer. The hormone pellets are then placed into the device, and the incision site is closed with a sterile strip. 

Since the incision required to place the pellets is so small, no incisions are required for this procedure. It’s best to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for three days after the procedure and avoid directly massaging the pellet site for around six months. 

Side Effects

Bioidentical hormones are widely considered to be safer, with a lower risk of side effects, than synthetic hormones. However, they may still pose risks for some individuals. To manage these risks, Dr. Dima will closely monitor your reaction to the hormones and make dosage adjustments accordingly. 

Some individuals experience the following side effects from bHRT:

  • Mild fluid retention
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Stomach upset
  • Mood changes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue 

Overcoming Menopause and Andropause with bHRT

Hormone replacement therapy can grant individuals experiencing menopause or andropause a new lease on life. With freedom from uncomfortable symptoms, it’s possible to regain your vitality and protect your long-term health. 

Reach out to the team at WellMedica in Reston to schedule a consultation for bHRT today!

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1801 Robert Fulton Dr. Suite 540
Reston, VA 20191
phone# 703-787-9866
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