Frequently Asked Questions About Bioidentical Hormones
Before beginning a Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) program, it’s natural to have a few questions about the process and what to expect. M. E. “Gene” Turner M.D., at Mid-Florida Age Management in Ocala has compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you decide if BHRT is the best option for you.
What Forms of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Are Available?
Currently, BHRT is available as a patch, oral medication, injection, suppository or sub-dermal pellet. A hormone replacement specialist considers any other health issues of the patient before recommending a specific approach. For example, people with high cholesterol tend to do better with the patch but worse with oral medications. Patients may switch to another method if the initial method prescribed is not tolerated well.
What Testing Determines if BHRT is Right for Me?
Testing depends on the patient’s sex and the types of symptoms being experienced. For women, most doctors choose to test hormone levels by collecting a saliva sample or by conducting a follicle stimulating hormone test. For this test, a doctor collects a blood sample every hour for three hours. Doctors perform a simple blood test on male patients to determine current testosterone levels.
What Symptoms Can Be Alleviated with BHRT?
Both men and women may undergo BHRT for low sex drive, hot flashes and night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and fatigue. For men, problems such as loss of muscle tone, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and loss of body hair may be solved with BHRT. Women experiencing sexual dysfunction, low energy levels and worsening issues with premenstrual syndrome may benefit from BHRT. This is just a small sample of the dozens of symptoms that either sex may experience as a result of imbalanced or low hormone levels.
What Age Groups Benefit Most from BHRT?
Women tend to experience problems with hormone imbalance when they begin perimenopause, which occurs several years before menopause. This may occur anytime between the middle 30s to the early 50s. Men’s bodies start producing less testosterone around the age of 30, but the effects are often not felt until around age 40. In either case, people who are at or near middle age usually benefit from Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy the most.
What Is the Difference between BHRT and Synthetic Hormone Options?
Bioidentical hormones are an exact replication of the hormones naturally produced by the body in terms of cellular and chemical structure. They are derived from plant extracts and manufactured by a compounding pharmacy to provide maximum benefit to the patient. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are altered and replaced with unnatural chemical ingredients. Medical studies conducted in Europe over the past decade indicate that bioidentical hormones are safer overall than synthetic ones.
What Types of Bioidentical Hormones Does Gene Turner, M.D. Offer?
The most common types of hormones offered are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. A treatment specialist decides on the specific hormones and amount to use in replacement therapy. Treatment is based off the results of the patient’s hormone tests and self-reported complications of hormone imbalance.
Can BHRT Help Alleviate Menopause Symptoms?
Yes. By the time a woman has completed menopause, her body has stopped producing estrogen altogether. Prior to menopause, the reduced production of estrogen can cause a wide range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain. By replacing estrogen, balance is restored and symptoms are greatly reduced or even eliminated.
Will BHRT Interfere with Fertility Treatments?
Possibly. A woman’s body requires estrogen to become pregnant, but hormone replacement therapy could introduce too much estrogen in the body for it to be fertile. It is important for women who are taking fertility treatments to disclose this to their hormone replacement specialist so they can plan for the most appropriate course of treatment.
Can I Take Advantage of BHRT Even Though I Am Diabetic?
As long as the metabolic effects of BHRT are closely monitored by a specialist, diabetic patients are not at any greater risk than any other group of people. Diabetic women in menopause tend to see the most relief from symptoms as changing estrogen levels can increase weight and hair growth.
Are There Side Effects I Should Know About?
The most common side effects reported for men and women include aggressiveness or irritability, as well as acne, itching or tenderness at the site of the injection or patch. Women may also experience breast tenderness, spotting and cramping. These side effects tend to disappear once the body has become accustomed to receiving the hormones.
What Type of Doctor Specializes in BHRT?
Doctors who specialize in BHRT usually work in the complementary medicine field. They have years of experience and training on the effects of hormone imbalances on the human body. Traditional doctors tend to prescribe synthetic hormones over bioidentical hormones as these are heavily marketed by the pharmaceutical industry and are more profitable for doctors.