Bioidentical hormones are primarily derived from plants. Medical professionals use bioidentical hormones in personalized therapies for women and men to treat symptoms that can negatively and severely affect the quality of life. Everyone experiences the repercussions of aging. Not everyone experiences the life-changing benefits of bioidentical hormones. Continue reading to learn about our bodies, hormones, aging, and the treatments we offer at YM—A Florida Top Rated® Medical Clinic.
Hormones: Why Do We Need Them
Our bodies produce hormones for a number of reasons. Essential to bodily functions, many health and science professionals refer to hormones as “chemical messengers.” Stored in our glands, we secrete around 50 of these chemical substances each day. Hormones circulate through the body via the bloodstream to target and activate different cells garnering different responses.
- Oxytocin—arguably the most potent hormone in your body—helps mothers and babies bond, gives you empathy, and releases during orgasms.
- Testosterone increases sex drive and gives you energy for activities such as exercise.
- Progesterone—an unsung hero—stabilizes your mood and is overall calming.
- Cortisol is responsible for our fight-or-flight reactions—or nowadays stress.
- Estrogen—essential to women—maintains bone strength and gives females their characteristics.
What Happens When Hormone Levels Decrease
As you might remember, hormone production increases during puberty and reaches a peak in healthy adults during their 20s and early 30s. Like it or not, hormone levels decline around our mid-30s to early 40s and continue to remain at lower levels for the rest of our lives. Women are hit especially hard by decreased hormone levels. Perimenopause and menopause are words women in their late 40s and 50s cringe when they hear because of the negative symptoms associated with this natural stage in their lives. The female body produces fewer hormones—especially estrogen—typically leading to symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes/night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain (mostly around the abdomen), and thinning bones. Women are not the only ones who negatively suffer from hormonal decline, though.
“Male Menopause” is the new term for androgen decline or low testosterone. The medical community is giving this topic more attention now because more men around 45-50+ are expressing their life-altering problems with weakness, fatigue, depression, and sexual issues. As medical providers often overlooked this condition, many prescribed anti-depressants to men suffering from low testosterone—not getting to the root of the problem. With significant advancements in personalized medicine and diagnostic labs, men and women can now understand what their body is lacking. With the right treatments, it’s possible to feel stronger, more focused, and more energetic.
BioIdentical Hormones VS Synthetic Hormones
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been around for a while. In 1966, Robert A. Wilson, M.D. authored “Feminine Forever” stating that “menopause is completely preventable.” He heavily promoted the use of synthetic estrogen. Derived from the urine of pregnant horses, estrone, equilin, and equilenin to create the most commonly used HRT drug, Premarin. The synthetic estrogen, however, caused women’s uterine lining to thicken increasing the risk of cancer. Pharmaceutical companies patented progestin, the synthetic form of progesterone, through the drug Prempro hoping to mitigate Premarin’s potentially life-threatening side-effects. Prempro also has its downfalls. The Women’s Health Initiative (2002), a comprehensive study of morbidity and mortality in post-menopausal women, determined that the combination of Prempro and Premarin drastically increased breast cancer—almost doubling the death rate in comparison to women taking a placebo. There were positive findings in this study, though. Estrogen/progestin users had a reduced risk of hip fracture and colorectal cancer in comparison with users of a placebo.
Bio-identical hormones are identical in molecular structure to the hormones we make in our bodies. Derived primarily from plants, they are a much safer option. They act like the hormones our bodies make. For example, one advantage of bioidentical estrogen for women is that estrogen levels from this source are more monitorable than estrogen used in HRT like Premarin. Thus, the treatment can be individualized accordingly.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is growing in popularity among women and men over the age of 35—specifically, those who feel run-down, prone to weight gain (sometimes for the first time in their lives) and out of other options when it comes to managing these symptoms. Estrogen and testosterone are the two hormones tied explicitly to youth. BHRT aims to balance and improve conditions that are causing people not to feel their best.
A 35-year-old will feel incredible from customized BHRT. For a woman who is 50 years or older, BHRT can be an important treatment in her well-care. Mentioned previously, synthetic estrogen and progestin reduced hip fractures in postmenopausal women significantly. Now with BHRT, women can preemptively stave off the dangers of osteoporosis while taking a hormone that does not increase uterine or breast cancers.
BHRT at YM
YM offers BHRT through pellets. Bioidentical hormone pellet therapy provides many of the same benefits as other BHRT delivery methods, but it has some distinct features that set it apart from other forms of BHRT—such as no-hassle dosing. The bioidentical pellet is inserted and goes to work—no need to remember to take a pill or swipe on a cream. Your body is also the decision-maker for how much you need, slowly metabolizing the pellet over time. Patients don’t have to worry if they took too much or not enough, as it minimizes fluctuations between treatments. Bioidentical pellets are designed to work with each patient’s body chemistry, releasing a natural dose of hormones throughout the treatment cycle. The process is quick, similar to having your blood drawn.
Who Is a Good Candidate for BHRT
A good candidate for BHRT is someone who is experiencing the negative symptoms of shifting hormonal levels:
Thinning hair on both the head and body (Men exhibit more “patterned” hair loss that could likely be caused by genetics. Women that experience “unpatterned” hair loss, really should consider getting a diagnostic lab completed to determine a definite change in hormonal levels.)
- Weight gain, especially around the stomach and abdomen
- Exhaustion, less energy, and chronic fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Dryer skin
- Changes in body temperature, hot flashes, and night sweats
- Trouble sleeping
- Symptoms of mood changes, emotional instability (i.e., irritability), and anxiety
- Cognitive changes like brain fog, reduced concentration and trouble remembering
Why You Should Go to YM for BHRT
There are other contributors of these symptoms. Lack of sleep and high amounts of emotional stress can disturb the hormonal balance well before menopause even takes place. At YM, our practice includes Douglas Hall, MD, a practitioner of Functional Medicine for over 40 years. His passion is getting to the cause of any ailments or optimizing your body through multiple means including looking at your genetics. His preferred treatments are diet and lifestyle modifications along with supplementation as needed. Dr. Hall will determine if your symptoms are related to hormonal changes or due to another health condition that should be treated first. He recommends reflecting how your health and reaction to lifestyle habits have changed over time as you’ve gotten older.
For example, there’s a good chance your symptoms are related to hormonal shifts if you exercised and slept a certain amount during your 20s–30s and felt well; but, during your late 40s, suddenly, you began feeling differently without changing your routine. YM is a comprehensive anti-aging clinic in Central Florida that looks at the whole person and determines the best treatment program uniquely for you.