Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Male Body And Hormone Replacement Therapy

By Jake Alexandre

A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another.

Endocrine hormone molecules are secreted (released) directly into the bloodstream, whereas exocrine hormones (or ectohormones) are secreted directly into a duct, and, from the duct, they flow either into the bloodstream or from cell to cell by diffusion in a process known as paracrine signalling. Hormonal signaling involves biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue, storage and secretion of the hormone, transport of the hormone to the target cells, recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane or intracellular receptor protein and degradation of the hormone.

Men primarily produce three types of hormones: follicle-stimulating hormones, luteinizing hormones and steroid hormones. These chemicals control everything from hair growth to sperm production to muscle development, and decrease in production as men age.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a specialized field of medicine which consists of optimizing male hormones for male hormone imbalance (i.e. hormone deficiency or excess) and optimizing female hormones for female hormone imbalance (i.e. hormone deficiency or excess) through the use of natural bioidentical or synthetic hormones.

As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life. The significance of this decline is controversial and poorly understood. The options available for hormone replacement for men are: * intramuscular injections, generally every two or three weeks * testosterone patches worn either on the body or on the scrotum (the sac that contains the testicles). These patches are used daily. The body patch application is rotated between the buttocks, arms, back or abdomen. * testosterone gels that are applied daily to the shoulders, upper arms, or abdomen. Each of these options provides adequate levels of hormone replacement therapy for men. Each has side effects and advantages and disadvantages. Intramuscular injections produce wider swings in hormone concentration, with higher levels shortly after the injection and lower levels just before the next injection is due. They may also produce increases in blood cell count that are higher than normal. The body patches may produce skin irritation in a significant number of men, requiring discontinuation of the patch. The gels require care in making sure that the hormone is not accidentally transferred to another person or partner.

Hormone replacement therapy may stimulate growth of the prostate. If early prostate cancer is present, testosterone may stimulate the cancer's growth. Therefore, men who have prostate cancer should not take hormone replacement therapy. It is important for all men considering hormone replacement therapy to undergo prostate screening before starting this therapy. With proper male hormone therapy, the symptoms of hormone deficiency will start to improve in 7 to 14 days.

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