What is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy?
As we go through life transitions, hormone levels can become imbalanced. After childbirth, perimenopause, weight changes, and aging in general hormone shifts can occur resulting in unpleasant symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the therapeutic administration of hormones to replace or supplement a deficiency or imbalance of normally occurring hormones. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT) refers to the fact that the hormone molecule is exactly like that which occurs naturally in the body, as opposed to standard hormone replacement that may use synthetic derivatives. Bio-identical hormones cannot be patented, so most manufacturing companies synthesize molecules that are intentionally different than natural hormones. Because bHRT mimics your body’s natural hormones, you can expect fewer negative side effects than with conventional hormone replacement.
What is a hormone?
Hormones are molecules that act as messengers in the body, initiating, accelerating, or halting physiological processes. Important examples that are often used in bHRT are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and these collectively are known as “sex hormones” since they influence reproductive function and sexual development. Other hormones that are often supplemented are thyroid hormone and DHEA.
How do I know if I need bHRT?
There are many medical conditions and symptoms that can benefit from bHRT. Your physician at Today Health and Wellness will ask you a number of questions to determine if bHRT might be right for you. In addition, she may order lab work including hormonal testing, to determine the exact prescription that will be best for you.
If it’s bio-identical, does that mean that everyone can take it?
No. There are certain conditions and types of cancer that make bHRT unsafe. Your Today physician will help identify any potential contraindications to this therapy.
Here is a brief list of symptoms that may benefit from bHRT:
- hot flashes
- weight gain
- loss of muscle mass
- depression and anxiety
- low libido
- stress incontinence
- vaginal dryness and atrophy
- erectile dysfunction
- dry hair and skin
- water retention
- difficulty achieving orgasm
What can I expect from bHRT?
At Today, we believe that the best prescription is an individualized one and therefore you will likely be given a compounded formula. Each of our bodies responds slightly differently to hormones, so it may take a few months or dosage adjustments to achieve optimum results. Through consistent treatment you can expect to experience relief from some of your symptoms and a greater sense of wellbeing as your hormones become more balanced.
If you think that bHRT might be right for you, schedule an appointment with your Today Health and Wellness physician. She will do a thorough consultation to determine if you are a good candidate for the therapy, and also individualize the particular hormone prescription so that it is ideal for you.