The History of Hormone Replacement Therapy

By Tuesday November 24th, 2015Hormone Replacement Therapy

In an attempt to solve late onset medical conditions, physicians in the mid 1800s began investigating slowed or halted hormone production as the cause. Without adequate hormones levels, people experience medical problems ranging from mood disorders to heart conditions. Although early hormone therapy methods targeted female patients, physicians quickly discovered that men also suffered ill effects from low hormone levels. Ever since the release of these investigative findings, researchers have remained on a mission to develop effective synthetic hormone replacement therapies for both men and women.

Synthetic Hormone Development

The earliest treatments for low hormone related symptoms consisted of a blend of herbal remedies and biological compounds, such as cow ovaries, to reduce patient discomfort. These concoctions did very little to actually diminish severe symptoms or halt complication progression. Researchers continued to work with the biological agents to isolate the compounds known to synthetically restore hormone levels in the body. By 1933, medical researchers came up with a way to synthesize estrogen from the urine of pregnant women. Attention turned toward a more effective compound, progesterone, when early animal experiments returned favorable results.  Commercial production of progesterone began in the early 1940s.

Uptick in Prescription Therapies

The relief obtained through hormone replacement therapy shifted public outlook regarding symptoms caused by low hormone production. The symptoms previously viewed as a necessary rite of passage while growing older soon become known as an unnecessary inconvenience. Public perception shifts combined with the sheer effectiveness of the estrogen and progesterone based hormone therapies inspired women everywhere to start this innovative treatment option. By the 1960, nearly every woman spoke to her doctor about hormone replacement therapy upon reaching the onset of menopause.

Release of Various Delivery Methods

With the newfound popularity of hormone therapy, researchers began finding new delivery methods for the medication. Before long, the delivery methods expanded beyond oral pills to intramuscular injections and topical creams. The variety of medication delivery vehicles enabled more patients than ever before to adopt this treatment method in their golden years. Physicians also began extending the therapy option to younger patients who recently underwent a hysterectomy or other hormone compromising procedure.

Male Hormone Therapy Discoveries

Along the same timeline as the production of synthetic female hormones, researchers worked on developing suitable therapies for male patients.  A drop in androgen production caused men to develop similar health conditions and symptoms that greatly impacted their quality of life. Without medical intervention, men often find the symptoms caused by low hormones tend to worsen in frequency and severity every year. Effective synthetic androgenic hormones hit the market in droves from 1950 to 1976.

Long Term Use Discouraged

After decades of administering synthetic hormones to male and female patients, physicians started to notice a disturbing trend in cancer development. Upon taking a closer look, researchers determined that long term synthetic hormone use, especially at high doses, resulted in an increased risk of cancer development several years later. The highest risk of taking long term, high doses of hormones was cancer of the reproductive organs and nearby structures. As a result, physicians changed their treatment protocol to embrace short course prescriptions at altered dosage levels.

Bioidentical Hormones Developed

Although short course treatments reduced the patients’ cancer risk factors, many of the controlled symptoms returned in some form. Researchers used their expertise to address this medical need by developing bioidentical hormones. These hormones use the exact same structure as naturally occurring hormones to trick the body into synthesizing the product without a reaction. These hormones allow for long term use without an increased risk of cancer. Many patients find the bioidentical variants also reduce the chance of side effects while better controlling the symptoms caused by low hormone levels.

Evolution of Continued Therapy

Despite the success of bioidentical hormone treatments, researchers continue to strive toward further improvements in this realm. Researchers strive toward completely eliminating risks associated with prolonged hormone replacement therapy sessions. The developed hormones should also better treat men and women facing varied causes of their low hormone levels. With highly specialized hormone replacement therapies available, patients will not have to live with distressing symptoms or continued medical complications.

With the available hormone replacement therapy methods on the market today, patients can obtain the best treatment option for their condition by working with a physician focused on anti aging medicine. These physicians use their skills and knowledge to assign patients with a highly beneficial hormone replacement therapy schedule that eliminates stress and worry while keeping the condition under control.