In order for the body to function properly, the organs, tissues and other components must act in unison, a complex process that relies on optimal neural and cellular communication facilitated by the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system includes both the nervous system, which is responsible for quick and short-lived messaging, and the endocrine system, which releases hormones for slower and more prolonged communication. As we get older, our production of natural hormones slows down, and as a result, the neuroendocrine signaling process can falter, resulting in an array of symptoms and medical conditions that can have a significant impact on quality of life.
Low levels of testosterone and estrogen can cause similar symptoms in both men and women, including:
decreased sex drive
fatigue or lethargy
decreased muscle mass
confusion and inability to concentrate (decreased cognitive functions)
depression and other mood disorders
Low testosterone – or low T – in men can also cause erectile dysfunction – the inability to attain or maintain an erection – while low estrogen in women can result in decreased bone mass (osteoporosis) and increased problems with fertility. Low hormone levels have also been associated with an increased risk of stroke and atherosclerosis – so-called hardening of the arteries.
Hormone replacement therapy uses synthetic hormones to replace the ones the body naturally produces. Synthetic simply means the hormones are created in a laboratory setting, just like other medications. These lab-derived hormones are created to act like your body's naturally-produced hormones to facilitate healthy signaling between organs and other tissues to help manage hormonal imbalances and fluctuations. HRT uses pills, injections or gel formulations to replace hormones lost to the aging process or as a result of disease or injury.
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