Bio-Identical Hormones a Safe, Natural Remedy to the Fatigue, Weight Gain, and Loss of Libido in Aging
Bright McConnell, MD, often hears from his patients at FitMed Partners that they worry menopause or male androphase could destroy their marriages on top of their self esteem. In women, he sees weight gain, hot flashes, aging skin, and bone loss. He hears from men who are depressed, overweight, forgetful, or think they have sexual dysfunction.
Like most men and women, you may be frustrated by the symptoms of hormone loss and confused by the marketing hype surrounding synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Or you might be frightened by the fact that the WHI study demonstrated that the use of synthetic HRT and horse estrogens results in more health risks than benefits. The good news, McConnell says, is that there are other options.
What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines bio-identical hormones as “plant-derived hormones that are biochemically similar or identical to those produced by the ovary or body.” Bio-identical hormone replacements have a molecular structure that matches the molecular structure of the hormones produced by the human body. They are made from hormone precursor molecules found in soybeans or wild yams.
In contrast, synthetic HRT is not an exact fit for the human body’s hormone receptor sites. Because they are molecularly different in structure than the hormones they were designed to replace, synthetic hormones act as a foreign substance in the human body.
How do I know if I have a hormone imbalance?
Tired? Depressed? Unfocused? Progesterone supports the brain’s function of controlling mental acuity and emotional stability. At optimal levels, progesterone can be attributed to promoting an attitude of calmness, and also fostering health sleep patterns. This “feel good” hormone is the first to decline around 35-40 and drops 120 times more rapidly than estrogen.
From their mid-30s, almost all women are estrogen dominant. It is important to understand that estrogen dominance does not mean that the body is producing too much estrogen; rather, it means that the body’s estrogen is not balanced by progesterone. Some common symptoms include: weight gain, fatigue, depression, hot flashes, low sex drive, osteoporosis, night sweats, poor sleep, fibrocystic disease, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis.
Men come into FitMed saying they feel excessively fatigued, weaker, depressed, and that they have lost their sex drive – all common symptoms of a drop in testosterone. And although testosterone is often thought of as a male hormone, it also has a very vital function within the female body. In a biochemical sense, testosterone impacts sex drive, increases energy levels, improves muscle tone and maintains vaginal elasticity and stimulation.
The thyroid gland is best known for its metabolic function affecting weight, and the prevalence of thyroid problems increase with age. Approximately 26% of middle-aged women are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. In addition to weight gain, other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include mood disturbances, low energy levels, mental confusion, and sleep disturbances.
The two thumb-sized adrenal glands play a critical role in producing the hormones epinephrine, cortisol, and DHEA, and in regulating the sympathetic nervous system. One cardinal sign of adrenal exhaustion is relentless, debilitating fatigue. Cortisol increases appetite and energy levels while taming the allergic and inflammatory responses of the immune system. DHEA, is often referred to as the “anti-aging” hormone. It can help protect bone density, keep bad cholesterol levels under control, provide a general sense of vitality and energy, aid natural sleep patterns and improve mental acuity.
Where do you take Bio-Identical Hormones?
One size does not fit all. If each patient has their own unique hormone profile, then it is not possible to manufacture a single pharmaceutical product to meet the needs of each individual. Your physician will need to test your hormone levels through saliva, blood or urine testing, and order a specific hormone dose from a custom compounding pharmacy. BHRT can be dispensed in capsules, tablets, gelcaps, suppositories, sublingual drops and creams.
Why doesn’t the entire medical profession use BHRT?
Simply put, the market still exists. However; synthetic HRT has experienced a crescendo of clinical evidence that it should not be taken long-term. Nevertheless, HRT is well established by pharmacies, insurance companies, and consumers and these drugs are still the most commonly prescribed treatment for negative symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance and menopause.
“More and more physicians, particularly those focused on wellness and prevention, are turning to BHRT,” explains Dr. McConnell. “They have found that it alleviates the symptoms caused by the body’s natural decrease in production of hormones, reestablishes the body’s optimum hormonal ratio, and safely and effectively supports and improves a person’s overall physical, mental, and emotional health.”