3 Kinds of Hormones and What You Should Know about Them
Hormones are a group of chemicals in the body that are transported via the circulatory system to different tissues and organs. They help to relegate a long list of physiological functions including growth, development, sexual function, digestion, metabolism, and on and on. Any imbalance in the hormones can result in physiological chaos.
The interesting thing about hormones is that the human body tends to produce less of them as we age. This is why we hear so much about hormone replacement therapy for men and women in their late 50s and early 60s. That said, hormone therapies are also used with younger patients to treat a variety of conditions.
As a patient who might potentially be recommended for hormone therapy, there are some things you need to know. For starters, you need to know and understand the three kinds of hormones we typically work with.
The hormones naturally produced by the body are known as steroid hormones. They are broken down into five basic categories: androgen, estrogen, progestin, mineralocorticoids, and glucocorticoids. Because the body produces these hormones on its own, they are considered natural hormones.
You are likely already familiar with androgen and estrogen. They are big players in the area of sexual development and function. For example, we know that a drop in estrogen associated with age plays a big part in the sexual function of women. Estrogen directly affects the menstrual cycle and sexual desire.
Where the body naturally produces steroid hormones, synthetic hormones are created in a laboratory setting. They are designed to mimic our natural hormones, and they’re often the recommended choice for hormone replacement therapy and artificial reproductive therapy. The biggest downside to synthetic hormones is that they do not always achieve the desired results as effectively as we would like.
In the world of pharmaceuticals and biotech, a biosimilar substance is a natural substance with properties very similar to another substance it is replacing. This is certainly true for biosimilar hormones. These hormones are derived from animal, plant, and mineral sources and very closely resemble the steroid hormones they replace.
Proponents of biosimilars prefer them over synthetic hormones because they are natural substances. They can be used for both artificial reproductive therapy and hormone replacement therapy just like their synthetic counterparts. While the FDA has already approved a small handful of biosimilars, they are not yet approved in many countries around the world.
Restoring Hormonal Balance Makes a Difference
There are a lot of different things that can cause hormonal imbalances in human beings. Age is the one we think of most often, but imbalances can also be caused by poor nutrition, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, stress, and other underlying health conditions. The simple act of restoring hormonal balance can go a long way toward helping patients feel better and live the productive lives they are used to living.
The key for doctors is determining what kind of hormone is best in a given case. As with so many other things in medicine, there is no black and white answer for everyone. Doctors must look at a lot of different aspects before determining the best course of action. When the right hormone is chosen, it can work wonders for patients.