As awareness of the importance of hormones and their health implications grows, the hormone health industry will continue to evolve and expand at rapid rates. Over the past several decades, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has experienced a surge in popularity, driven by increased advertising, growing accessibility, and treatment innovations.
Now increasingly provided under the wing of personalized medicine, hormone therapies are currently used to treat menopause, andropause, thyroid disorders, hypogonadism, as well as other disorders of the endocrine system. As the prevalence of these conditions is on the rise, so is patient demand for HRT solutions, and more specifically bio-identical hormone-based products. At this time, incorporating hormonal health solutions into your service offering provides a great opportunity for practice expansion and patient growth.
Target Demographics Are Evolving
As hormone therapeutics are the key to solving many health conditions that disproportionately impact women – ranging from infertility and menopausal discomfort to mental health challenges – they are often grouped into the women’s health market, which is on the rise; experts forecast women’s health to be a $50 billion industry by the year 2025. However, data indicates that testosterone replacement therapy prescriptions quadrupled between 2003 and 2013 and have continued their upward trend in recent years. As the target demographic for hormonal therapeutics continues to expand, so will patient demand for these solutions.
Hormone Replacement Therapies Overview
There are many different types of hormone replacement therapies as well as indications for their use, routes of administration, and dosing protocols. As an alternative to more commonplace synthetic hormones, bio-identical hormones – which include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – are biologically identical to hormones naturally produced by the body. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapies (BHRT) have grown in popularity in recent years, especially due to the latest advancements in hormone pellet therapies. Offering a selection of therapeutic modalities is essential to effectively navigate individual patient symptoms, needs, and preferences.
Although hormone therapies may be easy to prescribe and relatively simple to administer, they are incredibly complex to implement effectively. Finding the ideal hormone balance for each patient can prove difficult and is often accompanied by disruptive side effects. It is crucial that clinicians obtain specialized knowledge and certification to safely and efficaciously treat their patients while maintaining the following important considerations in mind.
Important Considerations for Practitioners
In determining whether a patient is a good candidate for HRT, ensure to include a detailed medical history, patient age at start, individual risk factors, as well as any other relevant variables to effectively weigh the risks and benefits. The choice of specific HRT should be based on patient preference, patient adherence, safety, and efficacy. Only recommend and prescribe licensed products and refer any high-risk patients for a specialist’s opinion prior to initiating treatment. In addition, over-the-counter supplements and alternative therapeutics can be encouraged although there is no validated evidence of their efficacy.
At this time, there is no definitive duration of use or age cut-off for HRT use; instead, treatment should be individualized and the relevant risks be assessed on a patient by patient basis with persisting symptoms or the need for bone protection acting as indicators for treatment continuation. With regard to estrogen therapies, pregnancy risk remains and the use of contraceptives is advised until menopause is confirmed. In cases of primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) or early menopause, there is a risk of insufficient estrogen to protect against osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease before 51, the average age of menopause. In female patients with an intact uterus, natural bio-identical progesterone should be recommended to minimize breast cancer risk.
As demand for HRT and hormonal health management skyrockets, incorporating hormonal therapeutics into your practice is a great opportunity for expansion. If you are interested in offering hormonal solutions in your medical practice or simply looking to gain a more in-depth understanding of the bio-identical hormone replacement sector, A4M invites you to attend our upcoming Advancement in Anti-Aging Therapeutics in Clinical Practice event in September. The 3-day educational experience will feature the BHRT Symposium, designed to expertly equip practitioners to properly implement hormone treatment options to relieve, and even prevent, unwanted aging symptoms.