Hormones are signaling molecules that are carried around by the bloodstream. They control all the key functions of our bodies such as reproduction, energy levels, sleep and wake cycles, mood, behavior, eating, weight gain and loss, response to stress, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, immunity and a lot more. We cannot survive without hormones, and our health and well-being depend on a finely tuned balance of many hormones. When our hormones are out of balance, we cannot function normally. We gain weight, get depressed, experience mood swings, lose interest in sex, always feel tired, can’t sleep, get headaches, get sick more often and just don’t feel ourselves.
Problems with hormone imbalance most often hit in our 40’s and 50’s when women go through menopause and men through andropause. Illness, surgery and medication can lead to hormonal imbalance at any age. And the only way to return to normal and get your life back is to restore hormonal balance.
If your body is no longer producing some hormones in right quantities, they need to be replaced from an outside source. This means you need hormone replacement therapy. And here is where you face a major dilemma. You can go the usual route and have your doctor prescribe standard hormone replacement or you can choose Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
It’s mainly in the kind of hormones you receive. Standard hormone replacement therapy uses substances that act like hormones and have the effects of hormones once they get inside your body, but their structure is different from the molecules naturally produced by your endocrine system. Those artificial hormones come from different sources. They can be produced by a chemical plant or extracted from the urine of pregnant horses. But horses are not humans! And that results in side effects. Here is just one example. A study that looked into the use of artificial hormone replacement found a 41% increase in stroke, 29% increase in heart attacks and 26% increase in breast cancer. Patients in the study also developed twice as many dangerous blood clots that go straight into your lungs, block your heart and kill you instantly. Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, have not been linked to side effects. They are produced from plants such as yams and soybeans. And what is most important, their molecular structure is an exact match to the hormones your body already makes. This means your organs don’t react to these natural hormones as something foreign. They do their work exactly the same way your own hormones do. They are also broken down and eliminated the same way natural hormones are. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are often broken into byproducts that are even more dangerous than the original synthetic hormone!
Bioidentical hormones are made from plants such as soy beans or yams. Then they are sent to a special pharmacy called compounding pharmacy that operates under strict FDA guidelines. Unlike standard factory-made synthetic hormones and one-size-fits-all dosages, the compounding pharmacy mixes the hormones in the exact amounts and ratios that your doctor prescribed. Those amounts will depend on the results of testing you’ll have at the doctor’s office before your hormone prescription is sent to the compounding pharmacy. Your doctor who will be performing the tests and prescribing bioidentical hormones is highly trained and experienced in BHRT to ensure that your personalized custom treatment plan is as effective as possible.
Bioidentical hormones work best for treatment of the symptoms of menopause or andropause due to natural aging, surgery or medication. They are also used to restore hormonal imbalance due to medical conditions that are not related to age or menopause. Here are some of the symptoms treated with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy:
Low sex drive
Insomnia and other sleeping disorders
Loss of focus and concentration
Menstrual or migraine headaches
Hormone deficiency caused by birth control
The hormones used are estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and thyroid. The exact combination of hormones and the amounts are determined by your BHRT specialist after a full evaluation including testing.
Bioidentical hormones, being an exact match of natural hormones, have not been associated with increased health risks such as cancer development, blood clots and cardiovascular disease. Before prescribing bioidentical hormones, your BHRT expert will evaluate your medical history and determine if it is safe for you to start the treatment. Because your body may be already used to lower-than-normal hormone levels, you may experience mild side effects right after you start the treatment. Those side effects involve breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding, acne and fluid retention. Those side effects typically resolve on their own.
There are several ways to deliver bioidentical hormones inside your body. Pellets that are implanted under your skin during a quick office procedure offer the most benefits. They contain the exact hormone amounts and ratios determined by the doctor based on testing. After a pellet is in place, you don’t have to worry about taking pills, dealing with messy creams or coming back for regular injections that nobody enjoys. Pellets also give you the most consistent hormone delivery that closely matches natural hormone release by your endocrine glands. You can learn about pellets by clicking here. Other methods are capsules, creams and injections. Capsules are the simplest form of bioidentical hormone delivery. They are custom made and contain the quantities of hormones prescribed by your BHRT specialist. But you have to remember to take them! Even one missed capsule can lead to a significant drop in hormone levels in your blood and reduced treatment benefits. Another downside is that the capsules have to pass through your digestive system, and the amounts of the hormones that end up in your bloodstream may not be consistent from day to day. Creams are also simple in principle but they have their own downside. First of all, they are messy and nobody else in your household should ever touch them because that person can be harmed by unwanted hormones. You have to be careful who comes in contact with your cream even after you’ve applied it to your skin. Second, depending on the condition of your skin (moist, dry, irritated) as well as air temperature and humidity, the amount of the hormones that gets into your bloodstream can greatly vary. Third, different places on your body surface allow hormones to be absorbed at a different rate, so if you don’t apply the cream to the same spot the same way every time, your actual hormone dose will be fluctuating unpredictably. Finally, the cream can be accidentally washed off or rubbed off before the full hormone dose is delivered. And if you need a high dose of hormones? Then you’ll have to apply LOTS of cream and over a large area! Injections, as unpleasant as they may be, offer certain advantages over capsules and creams. The injected hormones quickly get into your bloodstream, and the dose you actually receive is more predictable. But if you look at hormone concentration in your blood, it won’t be steady. You’ll get a big spike right after the injection and then wild fluctuations. All that means you need to stick yourself (or getting stuck with by someone else) with needles quite often. The overall experience with hormone injection may not be all that great, and being consistent with the injection schedule may be challenging.
It depends on your starting point, how you felt before the start of therapy and a host of other factors. Everyone is unique, as you know. Here are the most common benefits BHRT patients enjoy:
Feeling younger, happier and healthier – better overall sense of well-being
Restored libido, sex performance and enjoyment
Improved muscle strength and tone
Healthier weight, less body fat
Improved focus, memory and concentration
Improved or resolved hot flashes, night sweats and other menopause symptoms
Improved or eliminated irregular periods and PMS
Better blood sugar control
Reduced risk of heart disease
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy has many benefits but it requires a thorough evaluation and lots of expertise to make sure it’s safe and effective. Scheduling a consultation is a good starting point where you can ask questions and get answers to decide whether BHRT is right for you. Our initial consultation is done over the phone, so you can call from the comfort of your own home or any other place that is convenient and assures privacy. Just click on the Schedule Free Consultation button below and pick a date and time. This initial phone consultation is absolutely free, and you have no obligation to become our patient.