How Long Should You Use Bioidentical Hormones
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plant extracts and have been modified to be structurally indistinguishable from the hormones our own bodies make. As such, they are safer and more effective than traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which uses animal hormones that are similar, but not exact to our own. However, even with plant-based hormones, there are limits on how long you should be treated.
How Long Should You Use Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Despite the fact that BHRT uses plant derivatives rather than synthetic animal derivatives, the use of bioidentical hormones hasn’t been studied as extensively as traditional HRT. There’s some evidence that because they’re natural and identical to the hormones your own body produces, they could be appropriate for continual use.
That being said, it’s always a better idea to introduce medications to your system that are biologically identical to what your body already produces than taking medications that are foreign to your body. When we put foreign substances in our body, they produce side effects that are sometimes worse than the condition they’re treating. As such, while bioidentical hormones should not be used forever, they are a safer alternative to traditional HRT. Moreover, they’re more effective as well.
As experts in the bioidentical hormone replacement field, we recommend undergoing this therapy for a maximum of seven years; however, we also suggest that you discontinue treatment when you achieve relief from your symptoms. Unfortunately, when you stop taking hormones, your symptoms may return. However, depending on when you started therapy, by the time you’re ready to stop taking them, you may have passed the point in your life when HRT was necessary, as it often is with menopause.
How Bioidentical HRT Works
Before you begin any type of HRT, you must obtain an accurate measurement of your hormone levels. Therefore, this is the first step in understanding how bioidentical HRT works. At our clinic, you’ll receive a technologically advanced hormone test through blood, saliva, and/or urine to determine if you have a hormone balance and if we believe that bioidentical HRT will be beneficial for your needs. In some cases, we may recommend other treatments for your symptoms.
Once we determine your specific needs based on your symptoms and measured hormone levels, we will develop a custom treatment plan that includes the exact dosages your body needs. These are not mass-produced hormones that can be used in the same doses for everyone. Compounding pharmacies that produce bioidentical hormones will receive a prescription for creating the bioidentical hormones that you’ll use during treatment. No other person will have the exact same prescription as you.
After you receive your prescription in the form determined to be best for your lifestyle, you’ll begin taking your personalized doses. The deficiencies in your hormone levels will gradually disappear as the replacement hormones increase your levels to normal. Since these hormones are exact replications of the ones you already produce, your body won’t reject them and there will be fewer side effects. Over time, your body’s hormones will be restored to their optimal levels, thereby alleviating your symptoms.
Hormones That Are Replicated
Any hormone that is naturally produced by the body can be replicated in a compounding pharmacy using plant derivatives, usually from yams and soy products. The most commonly replaced hormones in BHRT are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, triiodothyronine (thyroid), thyroxine (thyroid), and melatonin. The specific hormones you will replace are dependent on a test that measures which ones are deficient. We will measure your hormone levels at your initial appointment through a blood, saliva, and/or urine test.
Perfect for Men and Women
Traditional HRT is mostly focused on helping menopausal women restore their hormone balance through progesterone and estrogen, and while there is HRT for men in the form of testosterone, it’s not considered a viable treatment for older men who are otherwise healthy. This is because the risks often outweigh the benefits. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, though, men of all ages are able to take advantage of hormones that are structurally identical to the testosterone your body already produces.
Symptoms in Men
Men often believe that their symptoms of a hormone imbalance are a normal part of aging, but that’s not always true. Diet, age, and lifestyle can all have an impact on hormone levels in both men and women, but men are more likely to ignore their symptoms, even if they’re younger than they thought they would be when facing these conditions. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance in a male include the following.
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Fatigue Or Lower Energy
- Prostate Inflammation
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Lower Sperm Count
- Anxiety And Depression
- Weight Gain
- Decreased Muscle Tone
- Water Retention
- Breast Enlargement
- Reduced Strength
- Mood Swings
- Adult Acne
- Decreased Libido
Symptoms in Women
Menopausal women are usually who people think about when they hear the term “hormone replacement,” but in reality, women of all ages can have unbalanced hormones. When younger women get symptoms of a hormone imbalance, they often attribute it to other conditions like anxiety or depression rather than what’s really causing the symptoms. In fact, studies show that premenopausal women achieve better results from BHRT than women who wait until menopause. Hormonal imbalance symptoms in a female include the following.
- Anxiety And Depression
- Vaginal Dryness
- Fatigue Or Lower Energy
- Hair Loss Or Thinning
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Facial Hair Growth
- Dry Skin
- Weight Gain (Particularly Around The Abdomen)
- Uterine Fibroids
- Hot Flashes
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Decrease Libido
Now that you’ve seen all the various symptoms that hormonal imbalances can cause, it’s easy to see the benefits of getting bioidentical hormones. Most of these symptoms disappear with therapy, but even those that don’t entirely go away are greatly diminished. Menopausal women report a great relief from the most vexing of symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood instability. However, the alleviation of symptoms is not the only benefit from bioidentical hormones.
Healthier Teeth and Gums
Recent studies have shown that HRT can help you get healthier teeth and gums. The loss of bone density that comes with aging can cause teeth to become loose, and as we age, our teeth also become more susceptible to disease. However, when women take hormone replacement drugs, they’re much less likely to experience periodontitis, which is the underlying cause of bone and tooth loss. The improvement in oral health is likely due to the prevention of osteoporosis through HRT.
Improved Skin Health
Certain hormones are responsible for collagen and elastin production, and as our hormone levels decrease, so does our production of these two critical substances necessary for skin health. Bioidentical HRT has been shown to increase the amount of collagen produced by the body, leading to improved skin hydration, increased skin elasticity, and thicker skin, which is naturally healthier and less susceptible to bruises and wounds. Blood flow to the skin also increases, improving its color and overall appearance.
Alleviation of Symptoms in Cancer Patients
People who have undergone treatment for cancer that affected their hormone levels have reported that Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy were able to find relief from symptoms such as migraine headaches, incontinence, insomnia, and low libido. Additionally, in a recent study, these patients experienced a recurrence rate of breast cancer that was no higher than average, suggesting that BHRT is a safe and effective treatment for these patients.
How Bioidentical HRT is Administered
There are many ways in which bioidentical HRT can be administered, including injections, creams, tablets, patches, gels, lozenges, and implanted pellets. Not every method is right for every individual, so we’ll discuss the administration technique that is best for you and your lifestyle at your consultation. Additionally, we will monitor your progress to ensure the form of hormone you’re taking is delivering the results you desire. We can always change the method of delivery at any time.
Throughout your treatment, we will continue to monitor your hormone levels through blood, saliva, and/or urine tests to ensure you are receiving the proper dosage. We will also track your progress over time and provide you with reports that show how your hormone levels have changed. At these appointments, be sure to inform us of any changes in your symptoms or if any of them return while you are getting treatment. This will allow us to adjust your therapy.
Bioidentical hormone therapy is one of the regenerative medicine treatments offered at Integrative Telemedicine. Our physicians will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your condition in order to determine which treatment might be best for you. They will explain your options so that you can make a decision you’re most comfortable with.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, call our friendly staff today at (520) 396-4866 or fill out our online request form. We look forward to being your healthcare partner.