There has been a lot of talk recently about hormone therapy options. This has created a new dialog about the options as well as many questions. Is hormone therapy safe? What does bioidentical mean? Dr. David Pawsat, of The Center for Optimal Health in East Lansing, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about hormone therapy.
Why are Oprah and many others singing the praises of bioidentical hormones?
Simply put…because they work. After treating hundreds of patients with bioidentical hormones it still amazes me how life changing the result of these therapies can be.
What are some of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
- Memory Loss
- Weight Gain
- Hot Flushes
- Night Sweats
- Joint Pain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Sagging Skin
- Hair Loss
- Loss of sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Brain fog
What is bioidentical hormone therapy and how does it differ from other hormonal therapies?
Bioidentical hormone therapy is the use of estrogen, progesterone, or other hormones that are chemically exact duplicates to the hormones produced in our body. Their effects are thought to be the same as the hormones produced in the body.
Many traditional hormone replacement therapies use animal-derived or synthetic versions of a hormone. These types of hormones often work similarly to the body’s hormones, but the problem is, they are not exactly the same in chemical structure. This chemical difference results in a less than optimal effect and more importantly may have adverse consequences and side effects. For example, the synthetic forms of progesterone are now being found to increase a women’s risk of breast cancer.
Despite these obvious differences in chemical structure and the body’s response to these hormones, many physicians still lump all hormone therapies into the same category. This is what can confuse those considering hormone therapy.
At what age is bioidentical hormone therapy appropriate?
Perimenopause may start eight years before menopause. During this period women may experience anxiety, irritability, irregular periods, sleep disturbances and increased PMS. For some women perimenopause may begin in their 30s. Women are in menopause when they have gone without a period for 12 full months. Hormone therapy can prove helpful in alleviating the symptoms caused by the hormone imbalances inherent in perimenopause and menopause.
What should I look for in a physician?
The most important component to hormone replacement is a physician who spends the time listening to the patient. Hormones are very powerful substances that need to be replaced carefully. Hormonal balance can seldom be achieved with a one time, 15 minute visit to your doctor’s office. It takes a comprehensive evaluation of a woman’s signs of hormonal imbalance, along with a careful monitoring of her initial and ongoing response to therapy.
How can I get bioidentical hormones?
There are two general ways to obtain bioidentical hormones. One is through the use of patches, pills or creams made by pharmaceutical companies. These are FDA approved, but only come in a limited number of dosages. The compounded form of bioidentical hormones are made in a compounding pharmacy. These pharmacies specialize in customizing the hormones into exact amounts and ratios that better fit a patient’s individual needs.
How fast do bioidentical hormones work?
In my practice, women often initially present with complaints of brain fog, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, low sex drive, hot flushes, night sweats and trouble sleeping. Within a month, commonly, many of these symptoms are diminished and all symptoms may disappear within a few months.
Is bioidentical hormone therapy and wellness medicine the future of medicine?
Bioidentical hormone therapy is a fast growing part of wellness medicine. In the last three years, I have treated an increasing number of patients with bioidentical hormones. A fast growing number of both women and men are reaping the benefit of bioidentical hormones. Not only the public, but congress is recognizing the role of wellness medicine.
Recently some of the most well known wellness physicians in the country testified in front of a congressional subcommittee. This invitation was not by chance, but by recognition of effectiveness. As the number of healthy patients grows out of a wellness approach to healthcare, so will our leaders recognize its value and effectiveness?