Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the FDA-approved treatments for relief of menopausal symptoms in women. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is FDA approved for treatment for andropause (Low T) symptoms in men.
What is Menopause & Estrogen Replacement?
Menopause is when a woman’s periods and ability to have children stop permanently.
It happens about a year after her last period. It’s a natural process that can cause physical and emotional symptoms. The physical symptoms are caused by changes in hormones, and emotional symptoms can also occur. Menopause doesn’t mean life is over. There’s still a lot of life ahead. It doesn’t have to affect femininity or sexuality. Some women feel relieved to no longer worry about periods. Although it’s not an illness, women can explore hormone replacement options for symptom relief.
Treatment options for menopause range from lifestyle changes to hormone therapy. Technically, menopause is reached a year after the final period, which usually happens around age 51 in the United States. However, signs and symptoms can start before that year mark.
The signs and symptoms of menopause are usually enough for women to know they’re going through it. A simple blood test can check hormone levels like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen. FSH levels increase and estrogen levels decrease during menopause. A blood test for thyroid-stimulating hormone may also be recommended since hypothyroidism can cause similar symptoms. Menopause itself doesn’t need medical treatment, but treatments focus on relieving symptoms and preventing chronic conditions associated with aging.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone replacement therapy are effective in relieving menopausal symptoms. Depending on lab results and medical history, a hormone replacement practitioner can help manage symptoms.
Estrogen is a hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. There are three types of estrogen in the female body: estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Their levels decrease significantly during menopause. Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, dryness in the vagina, bladder problems, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. Some symptoms may improve over time. However, the absence of estrogen increases the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. Estrogen is vital for bone growth, and its decline leads to rapid bone loss. It also plays a role in protecting the heart and blood vessels, lowering cholesterol, and potentially guarding against Alzheimer’s. Estrogen can help women stay healthier as they age.
Unfortunately, most estrogen prescribed today is synthetic, which is not natural to the body. It’s better to use natural bio-identical estrogen, as the body accepts it better. Synthetic estrogen has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, natural estrogen, when combined with natural progesterone, can protect against breast cancer, similar to how it protects against uterine cancer.
Symptoms of Menopause in women include:
- Fatigue / Loss of energy
- Weight Gain
- Hot Flashes
- Low Sex Drive
- Vaginal Dryness
- Irritability & Mood Swings
- Anxiety and Depression
- Decreased Memory & Focus
- Night Sweats
What Is Low Testosterone/Low T?
Low testosterone happens when a man’s body doesn’t produce enough of its own testosterone. In the United States, around 13 million men may have low testosterone, but only 5-10% of them seek treatment. Symptoms can start in a man’s 30s or 40s, and most often by their fifties. The good news is that there are treatment options available for low testosterone.
Testosterone is a crucial hormone for men. It’s responsible for developing male characteristics during puberty and is important for sexual function, energy, mood, and body composition. Testosterone helps the male body build protein and is vital for a normal sex drive, physical stamina, and erections.
Testosterone also plays a role in various metabolic functions, including bone formation, liver function, prostate growth, and blood cell production in the bone marrow. Testosterone levels vary depending on age. If your levels are below 300 ng/dL, your doctor may diagnose you with low testosterone. While a blood test is needed to determine your testosterone level, men should always consult their doctor if they experience symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of low testosterone can be challenging to distinguish from normal age-related changes or other medical conditions. Often, the symptoms of low testosterone are subtle and similar to those caused by other medical conditions. This can make diagnosing low testosterone complicated. Symptoms are often attributed to “getting older,” but the underlying issue may actually be low testosterone. Low testosterone can occur alongside other common medical conditions. If you have any of the following medical conditions, it’s important to have your testosterone levels checked:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Long-term use of pain opioid medications
Symptoms of Andropause in men include:
- Low Sex Drive
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Irritability & Mood Swings
- Depression & Anxiety
- Weight Gain
- Reduce Muscle Mass
- Joint Pain
- Brain Fog
- Prostate Problems
- Decreased Cognitive Function & Memory
Bioidentical hormones are processed hormones designed to mimic the hormones made by your body’s glands. Taking bioidentical hormones can help people who experience symptoms of low or unbalanced hormones. This is often the case for people experiencing symptoms of peri-menopause, menopause, or andropause.
Both FDA-approved and compounded hormones come in various doses and forms (pills, creams, gels, sprays, and vaginal inserts). Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to find out which type of BHRT is right for you.
Hormones are chemicals made by your endocrine glands. They are messengers that tell other parts of your body how and when to work. Hormones affect many systems and functions in your body. Even the slightest imbalance can cause symptoms that interfere with your day. Healthcare providers may recommend hormone replacement therapy as a treatment for these symptoms.
Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) uses processed hormones that come from plants. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the most commonly used bioidentical hormones.
Some prescription forms of bioidentical hormones are premade by drug companies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain types of bioidentical hormones. Other forms of bioidentical hormones are custom-made by a pharmacist based on a healthcare provider’s prescription. These are compounded (or mixed) bioidentical hormones.
Replacing these lost or low hormones is the goal of bioidentical hormone therapy or conventional hormone therapy. Once hormone levels are increased, most people see their symptoms improve. However, there is not much evidence to support that bioidentical hormones are equal to conventional hormone therapy. We can discuss your options for hormone replacement with you based on your symptoms and health history.
The amount of time it takes for bioidentical hormones to work varies. Some people may feel mild relief within a few weeks. Most of the time, it takes about three months to feel the full effect of any type of hormone therapy.
History of Bio-Identical Pellet Therapy
Hormone replacement pellets have been available since the late 1930s. However, their popularity declined in the 1950s and 1960s as the U.S. pharmaceutical industry grew and the synthetic oral hormone called Premarin became accessible. Premarin is derived from the urine of pregnant horses, which contains significant amounts of estrogen-like chemicals. The Women’s Health Initiative, which linked certain forms of hormone replacement therapy with an increased risk of thromboembolic disease, stroke, and breast cancer, utilized Premarin and progestin, Provera. Thankfully, pellet therapy never disappeared and is now recognized as a comprehensive approach to managing symptoms associated with hormone deficiency.
Pellet therapy replenishes hormone levels in women and men naturally. It involves placing small implants under the skin that consistently release bioidentical hormones, which are identical to those naturally found in the body. This therapy is simple, convenient, and has an excellent safety record. We believe pellets are the best hormone replacement therapy option for women, as they allow hormones to be directly absorbed into the tissues without undergoing alteration by the liver, known as the “first-pass effect.”
- The hormones are absorbed directly into the bloodstream avoiding the liver and gastrointestinal system.
- The hormones remain continuously available 24/7 to your body
- Your body actively controls the release of the hormone. You absorb more hormones during exercise and stress, and absorb fewer hormones when at rest.
- Convenience – the pellets typically last 3-5 months.
- You don’t have to apply creams or gels daily.
- Studies show this method to be best for mental clarity and sexual function.
- Great for bone density