Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

    htca_logoBioidentical hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment using hormones that are identical to the hormones naturally made by your body. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has transformed the healthcare of men and women as they enter the later stages of life. It provides an alternative to hormones that are synthetic, such as injectable testosterone, or hormones concentrated from horse urine (Premarin). Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is made by compounding pharmacists in customized dosages based on the individual needs of the patient as opposed to the narrow choices available with mass-produced, or “one size fits all” hormone therapies.

    A more natural approach to hormone therapy often referred to as “natural hormone therapy” has focused attention on bioidentical hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones that the male and female body naturally produces for itself. Although not found in this form in nature, they are derived and made from plant compounds extracted from yams and soy. The result is often the relief from symptoms of hormone deficiency, from insomnia, chronic fatigue, memory loss, and loss of libido.

    Blood tests that measure total estradiol or testosterone are used to detect both a deficiency or excess of estrogen or testosterone the body produces as well as to monitor the effects of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. On the other hand, Premarin, the old standby estrogen used for decades, is metabolized into various forms of estrogen that can be dangerous and cannot be measured by standard laboratory tests. Proponents of bioidentical hormones say that an advantage is more precise monitoring of hormone levels and individualized treatment. Other benefits include calmer mood, reduced body fat, increased energy levels, increased sex drive, stronger mental clarity, and improved muscle tone and mass, among others.

    According to some studies, patients respond more quickly to bioidentical hormones and have reported finding relief from many of the common symptoms associated with menopause and the male equivalent, often referred to as “andropause”. Whereas, synthetic hormones are available with a prescription at most pharmacies; bioidentical hormones are available by prescription at compounding pharmacies only. At a compounding pharmacy, the pharmacist prepares and combines a customized blend, strength, and dose of the prescribed therapy.

    The clinical definition of menopause is the lack of a menstrual period for a full year. During this time, women experience natural and gradual reproductive decline. As a result, the ovaries produce diminishing amounts of estrogen and progesterone. Typical symptoms of menopause are known to include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, depression, and diminished libido. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help manage these undesirable symptoms and revitalize a sense of wellbeing overall. BHRT can significantly improve energy levels, mood, and passion. Most female patients begin to feel a difference within 48-72 hours while others may take one to two weeks to start feeling better.Andropause, or the male equivalent to menopause, is the point in the man’s life during which testosterone levels decline. Common symptoms of andropause and low testosterone, or “Low T” include fatigue, joint pain, mood swings, and low libido. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy replenishes testosterone levels, which can significantly improve an overall sense of wellbeing as well as relieve symptoms of andropause. BHRT can help men feel stronger and improve sexual function. Men usually notice the benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy within two to four weeks.

    Because hormone deficiency is a common cause of hair loss in men and women, treatment with estradiol and testosterone specifically in the form of pellets, can help hair regrowth. In fact, with pellet therapy, many people notice that their hair becomes less dry and thicker.

    Many methods of delivery can be utilized to administer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, however, data shows the most efficient method by way of absorption and availability to deliver hormones in both men and women is by pellet implant. BHRT pellets contain either estradiol or testosterone, which are pressed, or fused into tiny solid cylinders that for reference, are smaller than a tic tac and slightly larger than a grain of rice. They deliver consistent and healthy levels of hormones for 3-5 months in women and 4-6 months in men. Pellets dissolve inside the body on their own and are re-implanted two to four times a year depending on how rapidly the patient metabolizes the hormones. Pellets avoid the fluctuations of hormone levels seen with other methods of delivery, providing more consistent hormone levels over a longer period. Unlike conventional or synthetic hormone replacement therapy, pellets do not increase the risk of blood clots.

    Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy using pellets have a very high success rate, even in patients who have failed other types of hormone therapy, and remain at the top by way of convenience for the patient. When compared to other types of hormone replacement therapy, studies have indicated pellets to be superior for relief of symptoms of menopause and andropause, bone density maintenance, sleep regulation, and improvement in libido, sex drive, sexual performance, and sexual response.

    Men and women require adequate levels of testosterone for optimal physical and mental health and for the prevention of chronic illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart attacks, which are all associated with low testosterone levels. In addition to using pellets for hormone maintenance and regulation, testosterone pellets have also been utilized for the treatment of menstrual headaches and migraines, as well as providing relief of vaginal dryness, urinary frequency and urgency, and incontinence. In both men and women, the use of testosterone pellets has been shown to relieve depression and anxiety, improve concentration and memory, increase energy and an overall sense of well-being, and to treat testosterone deficiencies caused by the birth control pill.

    Hormone therapy with pellets is not just used for menopause, as women at any age may experience hormone imbalance. Pellets are useful in the treatment of severe PMS, postpartum depression, menstrual headaches, migraine headaches, and sleep disorders.

    The implantation of hormone pellets is a simple and relatively painless procedure performed under local anesthesia to “numb” the skin. The BHRT pellets are inserted in the upper buttocks by an experienced healthcare provider, through a small incision. Your healthcare provider will determine the correct dosage of hormones that will be used, as evident by results from a blood test.

    Complications from the implantation of pellets are minimal and may include minor bleeding or bruising, slight skin discoloration, and although very rare, infection and extrusion of the pellet. Testosterone delivered by pellet implantation may cause a slight increase in facial hair in some women and an increase in the production of red blood cells as low testosterone in men is a cause of anemia (low red blood cell count). Following pellet insertion, patients are advised to limit vigorous physical activity.

    Bioidentical hormone replacement pellets do not carry the same risk of breast cancer as do high doses of oral estrogens, as oral estrogens do not maintain safe hormone metabolites. Testosterone, delivered by pellet implantation has been shown to decrease breast proliferation and lower the risk of breast cancer, even in patients on conventional hormone replacement therapy.

    Estrogen delivered by pellet implantation may cause mild and temporary breast tenderness and water weight gain, which resolves on its own.

    Hormone levels are thoroughly tested and evaluated before bioidentical hormone replacement therapy begins. Levels are then reevaluated during hormone therapy, usually three weeks following insertion and before insertion of the next set of pellets.

    Estrogen and testosterone therapy by pellet implantation are a safe and efficient method of hormone therapy for both men and women. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy using pellets has consistently proven to be more effective than oral, intramuscular, and topical hormone therapy concerning bone density, sexual function, mood, cognitive function, urinary and vaginal symptoms, breast health, and hormone ratios.

    Hormone Treatment Centers of America helps men and women find and connect with qualified bioidentical hormone healthcare providers who will provide guidance and treatment to balance and optimize hormone levels.