Bio-identical hormone replacement is an approach where the natural hormonal status of a man or woman is optimized to allow for health and well being in the safest possible way using the lowest effective dose.
This is achieved by using hormones that are chemically and molecularly identical to the hormones that are already in the human body. It is important to draw this distinction because many of the hormones that have been studied and that (legitimately) aroused concern about the safety of hormone therapy have been hormones that are synthetic and do not necessarily belong in the human body and do not promote optimal health.
There are various means of hormone replacement including topical creams or gels, patches, and sometimes injections. Testosterone and estrogen are available in pellets, which offer a 3-5 month supply of hormone with one brief procedure. These routes avoid processing of the hormones by the liver when taken by the oral route, which can increase the risk of various health problems.
While some women do very well in menopause with just a few symptoms, many others have a very difficult time with it and some are nearly incapacitated. The majority of symptoms are due to estrogen deficiency. Treating these symptoms with safe and effective doses of estrogen, progesterone, and in some testosterone, can make a big difference in how a woman navigates menopause. Positive results include improvement in sleep, decrease in hot flashes and night sweats, heightened libido and sexual pleasure, and a greater sense of well being. Judicious use of hormones may improve cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and bone health and either prevent or reverse osteoporosis.
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men and low levels are fairly common as men enter into their 50’s and beyond. This is not just about sexual performance. Men who have low testosterone levels are at a higher risk of dying from many causes than are men with normal levels of testosterone. Symptoms and signs of low testosterone are fatigue, loss of muscle mass, low libido, elevated cholesterol. Low testosterone contributes to the development of diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. By replacing testosterone to optimal levels a man can experience heightened vitality and well-being, often in a very surprising way. This can be done by utilizing pellets, gels, patches or injections.
DHEA is an adrenal hormone which when low can contribute to fatigue and poor exercise capacity. DHEA replacement can also be useful in treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Growth hormone can become deficient in adults and contribute to fatigue and weight gain. Judicious replacement can often make a remarkable difference.
The choice to utilize the option of hormone therapy is an individual one and should be reviewed with a physician that is experienced and that you trust. Using the lowest effective dose can make an enormous difference in one’s health.