Who prescribes hormonal therapy?
The following doctors commonly prescribe hormonal therapy medications:
- Endocrinologists are internal medicine doctors who specialize in the treatment of endocrine disorders.
- Obstetrician and gynecologists (Ob/Gyns) specialize in general women's medical care and conditions and diseases of the female reproductive system.
- Oncologists are internal medicine doctors who specialize in treating cancer.
Other doctors and providers who prescribe hormonal therapy include:
- Family medicine doctors provide comprehensive healthcare to adults and children. Some family medicine doctors also provide prenatal care and deliver babies.
- Internists provide comprehensive healthcare to adults. Internal medicine doctors do not perform surgery or deliver babies.
- Midwives, including certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs). These types of midwives are healthcare professionals who provide prenatal, labor, and delivery care, and some gynecologic care, including menopause treatments. The ability of a midwife to prescribe hormonal therapy varies by state.
How is hormonal therapy delivered?
Your provider will prescribe hormonal therapy medications by mouth, patches you wear on your skin, or by injection.
Hormonal therapy in the form of surgery or radiation therapy is performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. Your provider will determine which type of treatment is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital or surgical center based on several factors. Factors include your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference.
Learn about the different hormonal therapy procedures for your condition. Ask why your doctor or provider will use a certain type for you.
Will I feel pain?
Hormonal therapy taken as pills is painless. Hormonal therapy given as shots may cause temporary soreness at the injection site. Let your doctor know if the discomfort does not pass quickly.
Hormonal therapy that involves radiation therapy or surgery may cause some discomfort. Your comfort and relaxation is important to both you and your care team. Your care team will give you sufficient anesthetic, pain and sedative medications so that you stay comfortable. Tell your doctor or care team if you are uncomfortable.
What are the risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy?
Most hormonal medication therapy is monitored with periodic blood tests. This helps your doctor make sure that you take the right amount of the hormonal drug.
Ideal doses vary from person to person. If the dose of hormonal medication is too small for you, it will not do its job correctly. If the dose is too high, it may cause side effects. Either of these situations can be serious and potentially life threatening.
Risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy include:
- Complications from too little of a hormonal medication
- Side effects from too much of a hormonal medication
- Side effects not related to dose. For example, insulin injections can cause skin changes that are not related to the dose. These changes include abnormal bumps, dents or thickening of your skin.
- Side effects related to length of treatment. For example, menopausal hormonal therapy carries risks, such as blood clots and stroke. These risks may increase the longer you take menopausal hormonal therapy.
- Unexpected side effects
Your healthcare provider is best one to advise you about the risks and complications of your hormonal therapy. Risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy radiation and surgery include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Exposure to ionizing radiation, which may harm normal tissues while treating diseased tissues
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before, during, and after hormonal therapy
- Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of pregnancy
- Keeping all scheduled appointments, including laboratory testing to monitor hormone levels
- Notifying your doctor right away of any concerns or symptoms, such as chest pain, palpitations, bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
- Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies