Hormone Replacement Therapy - An Overview
Androgenic alopecia is a medical condition that causes hair loss in men. Androgen (DHT) is converted to its dihydrotestosterone (DHT) form during the aging process. Androgen, a hormone produced by the testes, is responsible for the development of sperm, the male reproductive organ. The production of DHT may also be triggered by the presence of certain hormones in the body. Androgen is also responsible for the formation of new cells inside the scalp. Because of these androgenic properties, scientists have sought to use TRT therapies to slow or reverse male hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia is caused by a hormonal imbalance: low testosterone (in the male) or excessive androgen (DHT) production. The testosterone, a male hormone, is essential for the development of male sexual characteristics and strength, including libido and muscle mass. Low levels of testosterone have been found in both andropause-prone men and those with severe androgen deficiency or increased androgen levels after menopause. In men with androgen deficiency, excess testosterone production results in androgenetic alopecia.
Androgenic alopecia is considered a chronic condition because androgens produced by the testes have a tendency to bind with other molecules. When testosterone concentrations in the body are low, testosterone can't bind with the androgen produced by the adrenal gland, ovaries, and scrotum. As a result, these androgens find a place in the bloodstream instead. Androgenic alopecia may affect any part of the body, although the scalp is the most common area affected. Androgenic alopecia is believed to be related to chronic stress and certain medications, such as birth control pills.
Testosterone deficiency can also lead to androgenic effects in women, but these effects are less common and less severe. For a female patient seeking to use Androgen replacement therapy, there are several concerns to be addressed. First, because testosterone deficiency in women can be caused by a variety of factors, symptoms of androgen deficiency may be present or not, but may be subtle. Androgenic effects in women can include hair thinning and loss, and vaginal atrophy. The causes of androgen deficiency are unknown, and there is no sure way to tell which factors are causing a woman's symptoms.
Because androgenic alopecia has a close relationship with androgen deficiency, it is recommended that women try to improve their diet by including vegetables and fruits in the diet and reducing fats and trans-fats. Exercise is also important. Women with androgen deficiency should avoid agents that are known to convert testosterone to DHT, such as androgen and phytoestrogens. Taking any of these agents without the supervision of a medical professional should be avoided.
While androgens have been used for a long time to treat a host of conditions, androgen replacement therapy remains the most popular method of treating menopause and symptoms of aging. Many doctors feel that hormone therapy is best reserved until the age of fifty or so, when the body will have more naturally produced hormones. In recent years, the pharmaceutical companies have made many new drugs that will stimulate the production of testosterone and DHT, but these drugs have not caught on with the general public in quite the same way as the androgens have. It is too early to say what the future of Androgen replacement therapy will look like, but we can be confident that future advances will be made in the treatment of hormonal imbalance.