What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone therapy is the use of hormones to treat and restore hormone balance within the human body. Hormone imbalance can occur for a variety of reasons, but is most commonly associated with aging. Symptoms of hormone imbalance that are effectively treated with hormone replacement therapy include hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, anxiety, weight gain, muscle loss, joint pain, poor sleep, and more.
Dr. Q’s Total Weight Loss Center exclusively offers bioidentical hormone replacement therapy integrated with functional medicine practices to help patients overcome the negative symptoms of hormone imbalance, as well as experience wellbeing and better health as they age. Every treatment plan is designed to suit the unique needs of each patient’s personal medical history, health status, and lifestyle preferences.
SYNTHETIC VS. BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE THERAPY
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) uses bioidentical hormones derived from natural sources and compounded to be an exact structural match to the hormones inside the human body.
Synthetic hormones are often derived from animals and combined with chemicals to create a hormone therapy that is similar, but not exactly like human hormones.
The natural ingredients combined with the molecular match allows bioidentical hormones to fit into human hormone receptors exactly as naturally-occurring hormones. This feature ensures the safety and efficacy of the treatment. With synthetic hormones, the molecular structure is merely similar, causing the body to struggle with recognition of the substance and, therefore, causing side effects and poor outcomes.
In the past, most research into hormone therapy focused on synthetic hormones, but as the effectiveness of bioidentical hormone therapy has become renowned, researchers are turning their attention to BHRT. Bioidentical hormones have been heralded as a natural hormone therapy option and are effective for disease prevention as well as eliminating uncomfortable symptoms that often occur as part of the aging process.
Most famously, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) suggested that hormone therapy was dangerous. At the time, this was the largest-ever study on hormone therapy. It was designed to compare the efficacy of estrogen-only therapy and a combination of progesterone and estrogen therapies. For the study, researchers used synthetic hormones and many of the participants were of advanced age and higher risk of disease before the study began. These factors led many experts to review the study and uncover flaws in the methodologies used. These reviews have led large medical organizations, experts, and communities to revise previous policies against the use of hormone therapy. Today, the known benefits of hormone replacement therapy are numerous and it is believed to be the best treatment option for hormone imbalance and prevention of disease.
New research has also linked the use of bioidentical hormone therapy to better outcomes, finding that patients have fewer side effects along with enhanced benefits.
TYPES OF HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Patients suffering from conditions and symptoms of hormone imbalance, including menopause, andropause (also known as low testosterone in men), erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, pain with sex, difficulty sleeping, trouble losing weight, muscle aches, and moodiness can benefit from natural hormone replacement therapy. Bioidentical hormone therapy is available in a variety of delivery methods and are prescribed to meet the specific needs of each individual.
THYROID HORMONE THERAPY
ESTROGEN HORMONE THERAPY
Approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from thyroid dysfunction, yet 60 percent of Americans are undiagnosed. This is often due to the ambiguous nature of symptoms, which classically masquerade as symptoms of stress, aging, or even depression and anxiety. Untreated thyroid dysfunction can increase your risk of other diseases or worsen the impact of other conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
If you feel tired all the time, struggle with sleep, weight gain, depression, anxiety, or mood swings–it might be a hormone imbalance related to your thyroid. The thyroid influences nearly every cell in the body, making any dysfunction a significant issue.
The good news is that thyroid hormone imbalances can be treated; however, not just any treatment will do. Treatment must begin with accurate lab testing of all the hormones that play a role in thyroid function, including: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3, T4, reverse T3, and cortisol. Your practitioner should evaluate all of these hormones throughout the treatment process to adequately assess thyroid function and determine the progress of treatment.
Thyroid dysfunction can impact your overall health and contribute to uncomfortable symptoms. EVEXIAS Health Solutions trains providers to expertly assess lab results, looking beyond obscure ranges of “normal” and seeking to achieve optimal health and function for each patient. If you are concerned about your thyroid health or are experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, it is time to find a provider near you.
As a woman ages, estrogen levels decline, with sharp decreases occurring near middle age. Low levels of estrogen have been shown to contribute to uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, weight gain, mood swings, and more. Although the dramatic decline and affiliated symptoms are classically linked to perimenopause and menopause, low estrogen can occur before middle age.
Women experiencing symptoms of low estrogen should have their hormone levels evaluated by an expert who is trained to carefully analyze lab results and understands the delicate nature of hormonal imbalance. Though your lab results may show that your levels are within “normal” range, it may not be the definition of “normal” for you. Providers trained in hormone balance know that there is a distinct difference between “normal” and optimal.
Low levels of estrogen can impact your overall health and contribute to uncomfortable symptoms. Either condition can occur with menopause. Estrogen pellet therapy may be an effective solution to low estrogen and can help relieve symptoms of hormone imbalance. EvexiPEL estrogen pellet therapy is a bioidentical hormone therapy option that uses the highest-quality ingredients, proprietary formulation, and requires advanced-level training for all EvexiPEL-certified providers.
TESTOSTERONE HORMONE THERAPY
Many people believe that testosterone is the male hormone. However, both men and women make and need testosterone for optimal health. Testosterone plays a significant role in male and female sexual health, brain health, and weight management. As testosterone levels decline with age, you may experience a lack of focus, brain fog, low libido, an inability to build muscle, or weight gain.
Testosterone therapy helps patients identify and restore hormone levels to an optimal state to eliminate symptoms and enhance health and wellbeing. Testosterone therapy is also effective in supporting a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Testosterone therapy is available as injections, creams, and pellets. Testosterone pellet therapy is renowned as the most effective form of testosterone therapy.
DELIVERY METHODS OF HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
When your body requires hormone replacement therapy, there are a number of delivery methods available to meet your needs. You can choose from pills, patches, creams, gels, injections or pellets. You will want to chat with your hormone therapy doctor about which options are the most effective and how to make the right choice for your lifestyle.
CREAMS AND GELS
Pellet therapy is among the oldest forms of hormone therapy, dating back to the 1930s. With the many advancements in technology, pellet therapy is now considered the most effective delivery method of hormone therapy and the preferred option among patients and providers.
Pellet therapy is available for estradiol and testosterone hormone replacement. The hormone is compounded into a tiny pellet and inserted into the upper layer of skin, just above the buttocks. Aside from the convenience of never having to remember to take a pill, slather on cream, or put on a patch, this delivery method is the most optimal for a natural dosing structure and bioavailability. Pellet therapy mimics the slow, steady dosing that occurs naturally within the ovaries or testicles of the human body. Your doctor will use your lab work, symptom assessment, lifestyle, and reaction to the therapy to achieve an optimal prescription. Pellet therapy is designed to meet the unique needs of the individual, so you get exactly what your body needs, when it needs it–much like nature intended.
Creams are a topical form of hormone replacement therapy and available for cyclical progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen therapies. You will receive a custom-compounded cream or gel to apply as directed by your physician to a specific area of the body. For example, men may apply testosterone cream to the testicles, while women may apply in the vagina.
While there are some advantages to creams and gels, there are many risks. The primary side effect reported is outcomes related to transference to a relationship spouse/partner, other family members or pets that you may come into contact with after application.
Patches are another delivery method that offers convenient application and avoids errors in dosing. This option is available for estrogen therapy.
A patch, much like a bandaid, is attached to the skin with the prescribed dose of hormones. The patch stays on the skin for a recommended time period, delivering hormones through the skin until a new patch is required.
The visibility of the patch and the risk of the patch falling off often turns patients away from this method.
Pills are a familiar form of hormone therapy. Much like many other oral medications, hormone replacement therapy pills are compounded to your prescribed dose and ingested at a specified frequency.
Pills are among the most well-studied forms of hormone replacement therapy. It does come with higher-risk side effects, particularly when chosen for estrogen and testosterone therapies. Oral hormone therapy is classically prescribed for thyroid disorders and cyclical progesterone therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy injections are commonly used for testosterone or estrogen therapy. There are two types of injections: intra-muscular and subcutaneous.
Intramuscular injections inject the hormones deep into the muscle tissue facilitating faster absorption into the bloodstream.
Subcutaneous injections penetrate just beneath the surface of the skin for a slower rate of absorption.
Injections are often less preferable than pellets because of the pain associated with the injection, as well as the intensity of the hormone delivery following the injection. Pellets offer a more stable, steady dose reducing the side effects throughout the dosing cycle.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS YOU NEED HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY?
Men and women who feel they may have lost their “zeal for life,” or frequently experience low energy, sleepless nights, hair loss, low or no desire for sex, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and more are candidates for hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone imbalance is often an unfortunate side effect of aging that can diminish your quality of life and impact relationships. Bioidentical hormone therapy has been shown to be particularly effective for both women and men with few side effects and added benefits, such as reduced risk of disease.
To learn more about signs of hormone imbalance in men
To learn more about signs of hormone imbalance in women