Something that I think is hard to have a conversation about Riding For A Lifetime without touching on is the subject of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). HRT has gotten a lot more popular over the last few years and is something that I think the 40+ year old rider should consider.
To be honest, HRT is something I resisted for a long time. I felt like it was cheating and if I couldn’t do it “naturally” then I didn’t deserve it.
However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve had a few things change my mind. I’ve now been on HRT for a little over a year now and in this podcast I wanted to share my experience with it and some things you should know before looking into it.
You can stream this episode or download the MP3 file by clicking the link below. You can also find the podcast on Itunes, Podbean, Spotify and all other major podcasting platforms.
You can also read a summary article from the notes for the podcast below…
The first thing that got me to rethink HRT was having several friends of mine go on it and seeing their results. Their feedback was that they were recovering faster, getting less sore from training, had more energy and they were sleeping better. Of course, they were also seeing some benefits from the aesthetics side as well.
I have certainly seen myself losing ground in all of those areas despite my best efforts.
I also realized that I was using modern medicine to steal extra years of life – I have had antibiotics save my life at least twice. I figured that if I was going to use modern medicine to extend my life then why not use it to maximize those stolen years?
So I swallowed my pride and contacted a Hormone Replacement Therapy doctor and started to process.
The first thing I learned was that I was going to have to pay for it out of my own pocket. Insurance doesn’t cover comprehensive blood work that includes hormone levels and it also doesn’t cover HRT.
The medical establishment isn’t here to optimize your health, instead it makes money off of you being sick. Despite the fact that HRT has been shown to have a positive impact on mood, energy levels, lean body mass, production of red blood cells, bone mineral density, cognition and some cardiovascular risk factors, because it is a preventative measure instead of an intervention it isn’t seen as important.
So the first thing you need to know is that your regular doctor may not be on board with the idea simply because they don’t have much experience with it based on their lack of exposure to it through the medical insurance industry. This means that you will most likely need to find a HRT doctor and just explain to your regular doctor that you are going to keep them informed about what is going on but that you are going to use someone else for HRT.
After getting my first blood work done I found out that I was in the healthy range for everything but that some things like my A1C and triglycerides were creeping up. My dad was a Type 1 diabetic and my mom has a history of high cholesterol and so that made sense from a genetic history perspective.
Based on my results, my HRT doctor prescribed a regime that addressed what I was low in. This led to the second thing I learned, which is that HRT is about more than just testosterone.
Something else that is often out of whack is thyroid levels, which are important for energy levels through carb and fat metabolism. Beyond that I also had B12, DHEA and Vitamin D levels that were below optimal levels.
This means that it is important that you find a doctor that addresses all of your hormones and not just testosterone. I started a HRT regime that included testosterone, thyroid, Vitamin B12, DHEA and Vitamin D.
It took a couple of weeks but I started to feel the difference in my energy levels and how sore I was getting from training. Through the process I was also getting regular blood work done through my HRT doctor to make sure that everything was moving in the right direction.
After being on it for a year I saw my hormone levels optimized and my triglycerides cut in half. Sleep, energy and soreness levels from training are all improved. I’ve also added about 8 pounds of muscle and seen my bodyfat levels drop (I’ve never been fat but I was certainly getting soft and having a hard time staying as lean as I used to).
Something that I changed was switching from the testosterone cream to shots. This was just a personal preference because I liked just having to do a shot twice a week as opposed to rubbing the cream on my groin every day.
BTW, HRT isn’t just for men – my wife started it as well and has seen benefits from it as well. Yes, she’s on a low dose of testosterone but it certainly hasn’t made her “manly”.
I’d also like to point out that there are some risks with HRT and that not everyone will benefit from it the same way. However, the risks are pretty small compared to the potential benefits IMO but that is something you will have to decide for yourself.
I hope this podcast has given you something to think about in regards to HRT and if it would be right for you. If you want to optimize your healthspan and be able to ride for a lifetime then it might be an important part of your long term strategy.
Yes, it will cost you more than not doing it but you are most likely heading off other problems that can cost you more down the road. So do some research on the benefits and risks and then, if you think it is right for you, find a HRT doctor that you can talk with.
Until next time…
MTB Strength Training Systems