|Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy|
|Written by Dr. L Jeff Rostvig|
Symptoms of aging are medically treatable conditions.
Getting older doesn’t have to be thought of with dread. Signs of aging, including decreased energy, weight gain, sexual dysfunction and symptoms of menopause can easily be prevented with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). While hormone replacement is nothing new, BHRT is a safer, more natural treatment for both men and women than the conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with which many people are familiar. Unlike conventional HRT, which uses synthetic, chemically produced hormones, bioidentical hormones are an exact match to the hormones naturally occurring in humans (not horses), and are made from plant molecules. Another benefit of bioidenticals is a lack of controversy involved in producing them, as opposed to some synthetic or conventional hormones. Premarin, for example, is a hormone derived from the urine of pregnant mares that may have been mistreated, while bioidenticals can be derived from yams.
Instead of thinking of hormone deficiencies and associated symptoms as a normal part of aging, we should think of these as medically treatable conditions. Menopausal symptoms and sexual dysfunction should not be considered “normal.” Newer theories of aging indicate that aging does not cause hormone deficiencies; rather, hormone deficiencies cause us to age. Besides treatment of menopausal symptoms and sexual dysfunction, BHRT is used to maintain muscle mass, energy and stamina. It can also help regulate body fat levels and treat thyroid or adrenal gland dysfunction and, in general, keep weight gain at bay.
Some clinics offer hormone replacement, but you should find a doctor who specializes in anti-aging medicine who is experienced in testing for hormone deficiencies and prescribing hormone therapy. Treatment packages include assessment, testing, prescriptions, and follow-up appointments. Tests are non-invasive, including a 24-hour urine analysis and saliva sample as well as screening for a family history of cancer. Women need to be up-to-date with mammograms and pap smears, and men with PSA prostate tests. After the initial consultation and review of test results, the doctor will write a prescription, if indicated, that is unique to the individual.
Hormones come in a cream-filled syringe, which accurately measures each dose to be rubbed into the skin of the buttocks or forearm each night before bed. For women, the cream can be scented with lavender or other perfumes. Absorption through the skin works well to distribute hormones through the blood stream, which avoids having them broken down in the liver before they have a chance to work in specific areas of the body. Each prescription generally includes between one and three hormones, and costs approximately $35.00 per hormone. Government medical plans don’t cover this, but some extended medical plans do.
There are minor risks involved with any hormone replacement therapy, but studies have shown that bioidenticals are less likely to cause breast cancer than conventional hormone replacements. Side effects are uncommon, but can include heart palpitations or sweating with too much thyroid hormone, or fatigue with too much progesterone. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is not the fountain of youth, but it certainly helps people feel more youthful, increases stamina, keeps them fitter and greatly improves their quality of life.