Bioidentical Hormone Therapy – Frequently Asked Questions
Before you begin a Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) program, it’s normal to be curious about the process and have a few questions. Jane Kennedy, N.P. in Sonoma County has put together a thoughtful list of the most commonly asked questions about natural hormone replacement to help you decide if this is the best choice for you.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are precise replicas of the hormones that are naturally produced by your body. The main difference between bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones is that synthetic hormones are not identical to the hormones naturally created in your body. Bioidentical hormones match your body’s hormones molecule to molecule.
Why Should I Use Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Increasingly stressful lives, poor nutrition and absence of proper fitness can result in declining amounts of hormones in our bodies. Men struggling from symptoms of andropause or women going through menopause or perimenopause, can turn to bioidentical hormones to replace the natural hormones that have declined as their bodies have aged. In well known medical journals, researchers have reported that natural hormone therapy is not only safe, but it may also have a positive impact on diseases like osteoporosis and prostate cancer.
Do Women Need Hormones Before, During And After Menopause?
It doesn’t matter your age—if your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) are unbalanced, you may suffer ill effects, including hot flashes, night sweating, sleep problems, moodiness, depression, anxiety, loss of memory, vaginal dryness, fatigue, loss of sex drive and an increase in weight. Women with balanced hormones combined with proper nutrition and fitness can have a higher quality of life at any age.
Do Men Need Testosterone Replacement?
As men age, the hormone testosterone begins to decline. Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for maintaining mental focus, energy, metabolism, muscle mass, fat levels and sex drive. By balancing a man’s hormones with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, men can restore their vitality and reduce the signs and symptoms of low testosterone.
When Should I Consider Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Generally, your body’s natural hormones start to decline after your mid-30s. Hormonal imbalances are likely to be present by your mid-40s. Men and women often start replacing hormones between ages 45 and 50. If you are experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, it is best not to wait.
What Are The Side Effects Associated With Bioidentical Hormones?
Because bioidentical hormones have an identical molecular structure to the hormones made naturally by your body, you will experience relatively few side effects. Unwanted side effects occur primarily when the dosage of a hormone is too high for an individual.
How Long Until I See Results Using Hormone Therapy?
While results vary for each individual, you can expect to see results within three to six months.
What Is The Best Age To Begin BHRT?
Specialists believe that most people should have their hormones checked by age 40 or earlier if they are experiencing symptoms of menopause or andropause. The way to prevent illness and to optimize one’s health is to take an active role in addressing healthcare risks before they become a problem. Getting tested when you still feel good gives you a benchmark for later comparison when your hormones begin to decline.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Approved And Regulated By The FDA?
The ingredients in bioidentical hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are approved by the FDA. However, state and local pharmacy boards monitor their quality. It is important to know the quality standards and guidelines of the compounding pharmacy you choose to use.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy A Lifelong Treatment?
Not necessarily. The length of time depends on how well your body responds to hormone therapy. Other factors include how well you manage your diet, sleep patterns, exercise and stress levels; these can all affect your journey to regaining hormonal balance. Some patients cycle off various hormones once they become balanced and have fewer symptoms of menopause or andropause.
There are also patients who stop adrenal and thyroid support once their adrenals or thyroid glands have healed. There is no single answer for everyone, it depends on your individual hormone stability and how well your diet and lifestyle support everything else.
In the worst-case scenario, stopping bioidentical hormone therapy would return your body to the state it was in before you began your program.
Will Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Interfere With My Currently Prescribed Medications?
Generally, no. In some cases, medicines may actually be reduced or no longer needed.
I Have Been Prescribed Birth Control Pills; Are They Considered Hormone Therapy?
Yes, birth control pills are a type of hormone therapy but are different from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Birth control pill hormones are synthetic. Synthetic hormones have differences in their chemical structure that are not a replica of the body’s natural hormones.
Can Women Going Through Menopause Receive Help Through Bioidentical Hormones?
Women suffering from menopause symptoms that are looking to put an end to hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, memory loss, mood swings, weight gain and low libido are turning to qualified bioidentical hormone specialists to replace their declining natural hormones.
What Is The Women’s Health Initiative?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 1991 to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative was designed to define the risks and benefits of using synthetic hormone therapy to potentially prevent heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is important to note that the women in this study were all postmenopausal, at an average age of sixty-eight. This fact is significant as most of these women had 15 years since the loss of their hormones to develop diseases that estrogen, progesterone and testosterone might have prevented. Most importantly, the study used synthetic hormones and not natural bioidentical hormones.
Do I Need A Prescription For Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Yes. Bioidentical hormones are compounded prescription drugs that are produced in a specialized pharmacy. Each prescription is handmade from the highest-quality ingredients and made by pharmacists that specialize in formulating drugs. Since every patient is unique, the strength or the dosage needs to be specially made to fit the individual.
Will Hormone Therapy Help With Stress?
High stress levels are very common in individuals with unbalanced hormones. Regulating hormones with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy will certainly help to decrease stress levels and increase general feelings of wellbeing.
My Sex Drive Is Low, Could It Be My Hormones?
Yes. A deficiency of testosterone, estrogen or other types of hormone imbalance can cause low libido.
I Have Severe PMS, Could It Be My Hormones?
Severe PMS symptoms can certainly be the result of a hormonal imbalance. Having your hormones tested can help determine if this is the underlaying cause.
What Are The Different Types of Delivery Methods For Bioidentical Hormones?
The following are the different ways hormones may be administered:
- Creams – Transdermal methods are widely used to allow absorption of medicine directly through the skin.
- Triturates – Triturates are generally placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve, allowing the medication to enter the bloodstream quickly and easily.
- Troches – Troches are larger than triturates and are typically dissolved between the gum and cheek.
- Rapid dissolve tablets – Rapid dissolve tablets are the newest technology in dissolvable tablets. They are larger in size and can hold a larger amount of an active ingredient. They are designed to dissolve on the tongue and within a very short period of time (under 30 seconds). All oral delivery systems come in various combinations and flavors.
- Hormonal suppositories – Suppositories allow the hormone to travel quickly into the blood circulation system without it having to travel through the stomach where acids dilute the effect. Ideal for anyone with digestive problems.
- Hormonal pellet insertion – Hormone pellets are the best, most natural way to deliver hormones in both men and women. Implants, placed under the skin, consistently release small, physiologic doses of bioidentical hormones, providing optimal therapy.
If you have a question that was not listed above about hormone replacement therapy, or to learn how hormone therapy can benefit you, contact Jane Kennedy, N.P. in Santa Rosa today!