What are bio-identical hormones?
Hormones are molecules in the body that regulate vitally important bodily functions. Bio-identical hormones are similar to the hormones found in the body because they have the same exact molecular structure as the hormones produced naturally within the body. The body does not distinguish between supplemental bio-identical hormones and the hormones produced within the body. As a result, bio-identical hormones are properly utilized, and are then able to be naturally metabolized and excreted from the body.
Who should use bio-identical hormones?
Bio-identical hormones are intended to replace the hormones produced by body that decline with aging.
As men and women age, their bodies’ production of naturally occurring hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones) needed to maintain youthfulness, begin to decline. While the severity of symptoms varies widely, many men and women experience symptoms because their bodies no longer produce sex hormones at sufficient levels required to optimally sustain critical physiological processes. As a result, symptoms such as depression, irritability, and short-term memory lapses and weight gain are common complaints.
Although testosterone is thought of as a male hormone, it plays an important role in women’s health as well. Testosterone levels decrease in women as they age. Low testosterone in women can have a negative impact upon sex drive, mood and well-being, bone and muscle mass, and cardiovascular health. During menopause these symptoms can worsen. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue and sexual dysfunction are just a few of the most common symptoms.
Bio-identical Hormone Replacement (BHRT) can relieve and sometimes completely resolve these symptoms.
What are other potential health benefits of BHRT?
Use of BHRT can diminish and resolve the naturally occurring effects of declining hormone levels. There is also clinic research evidence that estriol can increase bone mineral density, making bones stronger and less likely to break. BHRT has been associated with enhanced sexual function and urinary health, and it can also increase collagen synthesis in the skin giving skin a more full and youthful appearance.
Are bio-identical hormones and BHRT safe?
There is an increasing amount of clinical and research evidence that the use of bio-identical hormones is indeed safe, and that progesterone in particular may support healthy vascular function.
How is hormone replacement therapy prescribed and administered?
The physicians at The Center for Integrative Medicine utilize compounding pharmacies to dispense bio-identical hormones for our patients.
Along with performing a thorough evaluation of the patient’s concerns, symptoms, and a complete physical examination, we typically first measure the level of, estriol, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone in the blood before determining if BHRT is appropriate. Sometimes when appropriate, other hormone tests such as thyroid hormone or other laboratory tests may be ordered
If treatment is deemed appropriate by our physicians, we will prescribe a treatment regimen that is specific for you and your symptoms. If your symptoms have improved after treatment we typically continue this treatment and perform regular follow up examinations to ensure that your overall health is well maintained. If an adjustment of your dose and additional tests are needed, they may be ordered.
Routine follow up visits are an integral part of your treatment plan.
We typically prescribe estrogen and progesterone, and testosterone as a cream, gel, patch or pellet insert. We believe bio-identical hormone replacement is safest when it is absorbed into the body on the skin or under the skin. Years of data collection have supported the use of transdermal or transmucosal replacement therapy to be an effective treatment for relief of some symptoms.
At The Center for Integrative Medicine, we believe that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy should only be considered as part of the general medical care provided by a physician, which includes preventative health maintenance, healthy diet, regular exercise and proper stress management.
How is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy paid for?
Most major insurance carriers cover office visits with physicians at The Center for Integrative Medicine, as well as most laboratory tests. Please contact our helpful office staff for answers to questions you may have regarding Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, and the service offered at The Center for Integrative Medicine.
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