Treatments & Therapies

Hormone Therapy – Treatment, Effect & Risks

Hormone therapy

In the context of hormone therapy or hormone treatment , endogenous hormones can be supplemented or replaced. Hormone therapy is used in various areas of medicine. Depending on various factors, hormone therapy carries risks that can be controlled.

What is hormone therapy?

Hormone therapy is a medical treatment method in which various hormones are used medicinally. Depending on the clinical picture, hormone therapy also uses anti-hormonal substances.

In this way, for example, the production of certain endogenous hormones can be blocked or delayed if this is of medical benefit. Depending on the form of hormone therapy, the nature of hormonal drugs can vary:

In hormone therapy, for example, natural hormones or synthetic (artificially produced) hormones can be administered. In addition to natural hormones as medicinal products, there are also so-called nature-identical hormones, which are administered by various representatives of hormone therapy.

Function, effect & goals

The areas of application of hormone therapy are diverse. Hormone therapy is used, for example, in the medical field of gynecology: for example, female sex hormones are used to treat symptoms associated with menopause (also known as menopause). During menopause, among other things, the estrogen level in the female body drops, which is why the sex hormone estrogen can be administered as part of hormone therapy if a woman has severe symptoms.Such hormone therapy is intended to combat symptoms such as brittle nails on the hands and feet or severe dryness of the skin and hair. In addition to the sex hormone estrogen, hormones such as progestin or progesterone can also be used as part of a corresponding hormone therapy.

Another form of hormone therapy in gynecology is contraception using the so-called contraceptive pill . Depending on the product, this medicine contains the hormones progestin and estrogen in different compositions. The estrogen it contains causes ovulation to be suppressed and the progestin fulfills the task of preventing the fertilization of an egg as part of hormone therapy with the help of the birth control pill.

Another area of ​​application for hormone therapy is in the treatment of malfunctions in the thyroid gland: If the thyroid gland in question is underactive, this often leads to reduced or even absent production of thyroid hormones. Since these hormones play an important role in physical metabolic processes , among other things , they are supplied to the body as part of hormone therapy.

This form of hormone therapy is also known as substitution therapy. If the thyroid gland is enlarged in an affected person, hormone therapy can aim to reduce thyroid activity. This form of hormone therapy is then referred to as suppression therapy.

Hormone therapy also plays a role in the treatment of various types of cancer . One form of hormone therapy in this context is also referred to as so-called anti-hormone therapy: the body’s own hormones, which would otherwise promote the growth of certain cancer cells, are inhibited. In many cases, targeted hormone therapy supplements chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the fight against cancer.

Risks & Dangers

Along with its benefits, hormone therapy can also come with various risks and dangers. For example, studies have shown that the use of hormone therapy with the female sex hormones estrogen and progestin to combat menopausal symptoms can be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer .According to expert statements, other possible risks of hormone therapy also include an increased susceptibility to strokes , heart attacks and venous thrombosis . The level of risk associated with hormone therapy depends, among other things, on the duration of treatment, the dose of hormones administered and the type of hormone administration:

For example, studies have shown that the risk of thrombosis associated with hormone therapy in menopausal women decreases when the hormones are administered through the skin (such as patches or creams) rather than tablets.

The nature of the sex hormones administered can also influence the risks of hormone therapy: it has been shown, among other things, that the administration of synthetic progestins is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer than the administration of natural progesterone.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.