Deciding how long to stay on a hormone replacement program is a very personal decision that depends on your symptoms, lifestyle, and overall health. We can assure patients that if they are feeling well on HRT, there is no reason to stop their treatment just because they have reached a certain age. At Herrera Medical Group in Lewisville, TX, we offer safe and effective hormone therapy that can usually be continued on a long-term basis.
How Long Can You Continue Doing Hormone Therapy?
The classic symptoms of hormone loss usually begin to present in both men and women when they are in their forties, although in some cases this process can begin much sooner. Hormone therapy can very effectively reverse these symptoms and significantly improve a person’s quality of life, so patients are of course reluctant to stop a treatment plan that has worked well for them.
The good news is that there is normally no reason to abruptly stop hormone replacement therapy just because you have reached a certain age. Even when the worst aspects of menopause have passed, many women choose to stay on HRT to maintain their bone health and sexual function. Men may continue to benefit from testosterone therapy indefinitely to avoid problems such as muscle atrophy and erectile dysfunction.
Is There a Recommended Age To Stop Hormone Replacement?
It used to be the consensus that women should stop HRT as soon as they are past menopause, but it is now recognized that HRT offers long-term benefits other than just relieving hot flashes. Just because you have reached age 65 does not mean you need to stop treatment, particularly if you have quality of life issues that are likely to return if you suddenly cut off your hormone supply.
Unless you have specific health issues that make extended HRT unadvisable, this is a safe treatment plan that can be continued indefinitely. There are even certain medical conditions that can be prevented with long-term hormone replacement. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
Being on a Hormone Replacement Program for 20 Years or Longer
It is not uncommon for a person to begin hormone therapy at the earliest signs of hormone fluctuation (around age 40), and then continue this therapy well into their 60s or beyond. While the length of time spent on HRT is a personal choice to be made in consultation with your health practitioner, patients need to know that under normal circumstances, there is no reason to stop treatment just because they have been on HRT for many years.
While your dose may need to be re-evaluated every year, men and women can continue to enjoy the benefits of hormone therapy indefinitely. A reputable medical clinic will continuously be monitoring your symptoms and health status to ensure you are receiving the correct hormones in the ideal amount for your particular needs.
Gradually Tapering a Hormone Dosage
If for any reason you and your doctor have decided that the time has come to cut back on hormone therapy, it is important that this be done in a gradual way, under medical supervision. Abruptly stopping treatment can result in a rebound of symptoms. In some cases, patients have been feeling well for a long time and think that they no longer need as significant a hormone boost. They don’t want to stop treatment entirely, but wish to experiment with a lesser dose.
As long as this gradual tapering is done under medical supervision, there should not be any issues. The key is to take this process slowly so that the dose isn’t overcorrected. If you find that you are still feeling well at a lesser dose – great. If you are beginning to feel unwell, your dose might need to be slightly increased and we can try tapering it again further down the road. The goal is to keep the patient at the minimum dose required for them to feel good.
Enjoying Hormone Therapy on a Long-Term Basis
If HRT has helped you with many of the symptoms that tend to present at mid-life, such as insomnia, depression, weight gain, sexual problems, cognitive issues, and general fatigue, then you are likely a good candidate for continuing this treatment on a long-term basis. As we have established, you do not need to give up the improvements in your quality of life that have been achieved through hormone therapy, unless you have otherwise been advised by your doctor.
Proven Benefits of Hormone Replacement
The benefits of HRT are not just anecdotal – they have been studied for many years. If you have been on a hormone replacement program for a while, you already know that balancing a person’s hormones can achieve the following outcomes:
- Improved sleep habits
- Better sex life
- Easier weight maintenance
- Enhanced memory and concentration
- Greater energy and vitality
- Stronger bones
- Improved mood
- Reduction in night sweats and hot flashes
How Long Can These Results Last?
Some patients experience these benefits right away, while others need more time for the effects to become noticeable. Over time, patients may need to adjust their dose to maintain these effects, which is why it’s important to be monitored by a hormone specialist. With long-term HRT, it is likely that your dose will require readjustment several times over the years to ensure you are always receiving the best dose for you.
Can You Have Too Much of a Good Thing?
Even though hormone replacement is one of the safest and most thoroughly tested therapies available when it comes to physiological anti-aging, people still need to have their dose carefully monitored. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can do wonderful things for the human body when administered in the right amount, but achieving balance is key.
This is why we strongly advise again self-administering a hormone-containing product that you find through a questionable source (for example, on the internet). If you are working with a reputable clinic, there is no need to be concerned about your dose or about the quality of hormones you are receiving. You can rest assured that your body will not be getting more hormones than it needs to thrive.
Medical Conditions That May Improve With Long-Term HRT
Some patients need immediate relief from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, but there are also many people who have chronic conditions or risk factors that can be improved with HRT. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, colon cancer, cervical cancer, or dementia, there are many studies that indicate that the right combination of hormones can be a good preventative measure.
Preventing Bone Loss and Fractures
One area where hormone replacement has the most proven track record of success is in preventing bone loss and fractures. We know that estrogen helps to protect women against osteoporosis, which can become debilitating later in life, particularly if a woman has a fall or accident that results in a fracture. Since osteoporosis medication tends to have adverse side effects, using estrogen replacement as the primary means of conserving bone mass makes sense.
Preventing Certain Cancers
While HRT is not recommended for women who have a history of breast cancer, there are other forms of cancer for which estrogen exposure has been shown to have a beneficial effect. Colon and cervical cancers, specifically, seem to be less likely to form when there is adequate estrogen present. If you are predisposed to these types of cancer, ask your doctor if being on a long-term hormone replacement program might be right for you.
While more research needs to be done on this topic, there are several recent studies that show a reduction in dementia risk among HRT users. Since we already know that hormone replacement can improve symptoms of “brain fog” and forgetfulness that often present at mid-life, it makes sense that hormones may have a protective effect on the brain. If you have a parent or grandparent with dementia, hormone replacement might be a good choice.
Continue Your Hormone Replacement Therapy With Confidence!
Whether you are a newcomer to HRT or have been enjoying the benefits of this therapy for many years, know that you can likely continue your treatment on a long-term basis without worrying about any negative outcomes. If you have any questions or concerns about your therapy, contact us today at Herrera Medical Group in Lewisville, TX. We would be pleased to sit down with you to discuss your long and short-term options for hormone replacement.