What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is exactly what the words say; hormones are being replaced as a form of therapy for some condition. For the last 60 years, HRT referred specifically to synthetic hormones given to menopausal women. Initially the intention was to keep women feeling young and feminine. The first brand of HRT in America, Premarin, contained only equine (horse) estrogens. However, concern in the 1950’s over increasing rates of uterine cancer finally led the drug company many years later to create Prempro by adding a synthetic progestin.
Over time, doctors were taught that HRT for women going through menopause helped their symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and weight gain. And for millions, it did. However, in the late 1990’s some women were questioning the use of HRT. Did all women need it? Why were all women put on the same dose? Then in 2002 came the results of a large women’s study (the WHI) looking at the effects of HRT (Premarin and Prempro, neither of which are bio-identical hormone forms). Its findings took the medical community by surprise. HRT with NON bio-identical and synthetic hormones was not found to decrease a woman’s chance of getting heart disease, but rather definitively increased her risk of blood clotting, stroke, and breast cancer.
As a result, women en masse stopped their HRT with the 2002 release of the WHI findings and began seeking alternatives for their menopausal symptoms. Yet many women found that as soon as they quit their HRT, their menopausal symptoms came rushing back. This was terribly discouraging for women struggling to deal with their symptoms but afraid of the health risks of synthetic forms of replacement hormones, and the pharmaceutical companies argued that there were no good alternatives to HRT.
The Bio-identical Hormone Difference For Women
Many women have turned to bio-identical hormones as a superior form of HRT. Bio-identical hormones can replace the female hormones normally manufactured by the endocrine system, principally in the ovaries, which include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and decline as the ovaries stop releasing eggs. Bio-identical means that the biochemical structure of the hormone is perfectly identical to the hormone produced in a woman’s body, and bio-identical hormones are not like a horse’s hormone or an artificially contrived formula almost like but just a little different from what a woman produces.
Bio-identical hormones took so long to gain acceptance the pharmaceutical companies actually developed synthetic estrogens and progestins in order to patent their drugs. They had hoped that the little changes they made to an estrogen or progesterone molecule would not make a big difference to a woman, but today doctors know that is not true. For example, birth control pills are synthetic estrogens and progestins, and as any woman who has taken them can attest, each brand affects her differently. Some women cannot tolerate them at all.
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
- Improved sexual performance
- Improved lipid and cholesterol levels
- Improved blood sugar balance
- Improved mood and outlook
- Increased focus and concentration
- More strength and energy
- Improved well being
- Reduced hot flashes
- Better quality of sleep
Menopause and Perimenopause in Women:
Menopause is a condition that every healthy woman will experience as she reaches middle age, typically between the ages of 35-59. It is a natural, gradual process that occurs when a woman’s ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, and her lifetime supply of eggs becomes depleted, meaning a full year has passed since her last menstrual cycle. Women going through menopause often experience a combination of some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats and/or cold flashes
- Irritability, mood swings, sudden tears
- Loss of libido, vaginal dryness
- Heart palpitations
- Fatigue, anxiety, and more
- Urinary urgency
- Inability to sleep through the night
- Clammy skin
- Weight gain
Bio-identical Androgens For Men
Male menopause or andropause refers to a gradual decline of the hormone, testosterone, over a period of time. Women go through menopause fairly quickly whereas men have more gradual and less obvious changes so the symptoms may not be recognized and can build up over time. Clinical evidence suggests that imbalanced testosterone levels can increase a man’s risk of heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, while decreasing mental clarity, sex drive, competitive edge and more. Some potential negative effects of andropause include stiffness in muscles and joints, decreased fitness, decreased effectiveness of workouts, more fat, less muscle, weakened bones, fatigue, depression, irritability (grumpy old man syndrome), anemia, diminished energy, virility, and sense of well being, and decreased libido and potency.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for men has been proven to improve cognitive function, thinking skills, and memory, reduce incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, decrease andropausal symptom, and restore youth and vitality to life. Some potential benefits of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy include:
- Skin – Increased skin elasticity, texture, and tightness.
- Energy – Increased energy and emotional stability.
- Bone – Improved bone strength.
- Sexual power – Increased sexual potency and frequency.
- Muscle – Increased muscle strength and lean muscle mass.
- Fat – Decreased fat tissue.
- Memory – Improved mental functioning and strength.
- Heart – Improved cardiovascular strength and lower blood pressure, improvement of heart blood flow.
- Kidney – Improved kidney function.
- Immune System – Improved immunity and healing.
- Hair – Improved hair texture.
- Cholesterol – Elevated HDL and lowered LDL.
Bio-identical hormone therapy can also help a number of conditions such as Adult Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency Syndrome, Hypogonadism, Andropause, and Menopause. Bio-identical Hormone therapy cannot only alleviate symptoms and problems associated with the above conditions, but can also help men and women to:
- Enhance the immune system
- Improve memory & cognitive function
- Increase sexual energy
- Improve skin tone & texture
- Increase muscle mass while reducing body fat
- Increase energy levels
- Look and feel years younger
- Extend life
True bio-identical hormone replacement therapy also includes a compounding pharmacy that, after the physician measures hormone levels, customizes the dose. Boca Raton Bioidentical Hormone Specialist, Colleen Galvin, P.A., D.O.M. uses bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that is individually customized to help treat symptoms and problems associated with hormone deficiencies.