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Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)

The hormones serve as an internal communication system between cells throughout the body. They coordinate everything from digestion and growth to appetite, immune function, mood, and libido. So, when hormones are out of balance, even slightly, it can have a big impact on health and well-being.

The timing of hormone imbalance and symptoms associated for men and women are different.

Andropause in men has only gain acceptance by the medical community within the past few years. It is a gradual reduction in testosterone production that may occur in middle-aged men and can begin as early as the age of 35.Low testosterone may also be caused by conditions affecting the testicles, like testicular cancer.Some of the most common symptoms associated with Andropause include fatigue, depression, decrease libido, night sweats, limited ability to concentrate or stay focused and erectile dysfunction.

Peri-menopause and menopause are terms frequently associated with hormone imbalance in women.  Some of the symptoms associated include: post menopausal syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irregular cycles, fertility issues, hot flashes, libido changes – low sex drive, Night sweats, abdominal weight gain, insomnia, headaches, depression, anxiety, fatigue and foggy head.

The body’s hormones control most of basic body functions. The top 23 hormones and their control on the body functions are depicted in the following chart:

Signs and symptoms of Menopause and Andropause

Many of these symptoms are often treated with prescription drugs. The absence or imbalance of certain hormones has been found to be often the primary cause of such common patient complaints.With age, the body becomes less efficient in producing proper levels of natural hormones critical for major organ functions.Unhealthy life-style, poor nutrition, stress and toxins cause molecular stress inside the body and lead to serious hormonal imbalances.

As many of the symptoms overlap with each different hormone imbalance, it is important to test individual hormone levels before treating the individual.  These hormones can be tested through saliva, blood or urine to determine the individual’s specific needs.

FAQ for BHRT Therapy

How is hormone imbalance treated today?

Synthetic hormone replacement therapies for women were prescribed prior to a study published in New England Journal of Medicine in 1975, linking endometrial cancer to hormonal use. Since then, doctors have stayed away from prescribing hormones and patients generally have been asked to tolerate the unbearable medical problems associated with hormonal imbalance. In recent years, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy BHRT) gained traction. It promises a “natural” solution to hormone issues. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are among those most commonly used to treat men and women when their hormone levels drop or become unbalanced.

What is the difference between traditional and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy? 

Bioidentical hormones are manmade hormones derived from plant estrogens that are chemically identical to those the human body produces. The hormones used in traditional HRT are made from the urine of pregnant horses and other synthetic hormones which are foreign to the body system and hence, produce unwanted effects including heart disease and high risk of cancer.

What are the benefits of BHRT?

For women, they are used to increase the levels of the hormones and improve moderate to severe menopause symptoms, including:

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • mood changes
  • memory loss
  • weight gain
  • sleep issue
  • loss of interest in sex or pain during sex

For men, BHRT improves the testosterone levels to improve symptoms of fatigue, depression, decrease libido, night sweats, limited ability to concentrate or stay focused and erectile dysfunction.

Other benefits:

May reduce risk for diabetes, tooth loss, and cataracts and some evidence of improving skin thickness, hydration, and elasticity, and even reduce wrinkles.

For cancer patients who have undergone treatments that affect the estrogen levels, BHRT has been shown to be effective in improving their well-being and quality of life. In one study, they found relief from treatment-related symptoms such as migraines, incontinence, low libido, and insomnia. The study also found the recurrence rate of breast cancer was no higher than average.

What are the side effects and risks of BHRT? 

Research has shown that hormone replacement therapy in general may increase the risk for certain conditions and diseases including:

  • blood clots
  • stroke
  • gallbladder disease
  • heart disease
  • breast cancer

There may also be side effects that accompany BHRT, particularly in the beginning as the body adjusts to the hormones. Common side effects of BHRT may include:

  • acne
  • bloating
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • increased facial hair in women

Many people cannot take BHRT or any form of hormone replacement. The risks and potential for side effects may vary among men and women depending on their health history. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before using any hormone replacement therapy. Use the lowest dose that produces results and for the shortest length of time possible.

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