Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
The Truth About Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
When women reach a certain age, and transition into menopause, they frequently no longer feel like their younger, vital, selves anymore.. It is an unfortunate reality that throughout the course of life, especially during our later years, it is not uncommon for women to experience ebbs and flows in sexual interest , arousal , and orgasm. Many women can also experience a number of other distressing symptoms during this time, including vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, short term memory loss, difficulty sleeping, and weight gain, to name a few.
Female hormone levels fluctuate throughout the different stages of a woman’s life and optimizing hormone balance helps to prevent adverse symptoms and improve well-being. As a urologist and women’s health expert in Los Angeles, I offer natural hormone replacement therapies for my patients. Bioidentical hormones are effectively absorbed by the body and can have less side effects compared to some of the other synthetic FDA approved hormone products available. Frequently, women ignore menopausal symptoms and suffer in silence due to lack of knowledge, embarrassment or shame, or because they assume that the changes they are experiencing are due to stress or lack of sleep or another medical, emotional, or situational issue or condition. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms and are experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, or other associated symptoms, now is the time to do something about it. By optimizing hormone balance , you can address your symptoms and reinvigorate your sexual health and libido for a better quality of life. Quality is equally as important as quantity, in my opinion.
Studies show that hrt reduces the mortality of women aged 50-59 by at least 20% , presumably due to a reduction in cardiac events. Heart attack the most significant health risk in aging women. While 1in 25 women will die of breast cancer; one in three will die of a heart attack or stroke. Studies have also show that women who are on hrt at the time of their breast-cancer diagnosis are less likely to die from the disease. It is important for women to discuss the risks and benefits of HRT as it applies to them and thier family history, and make an informed decision about whether HRT is an option for them.
What Is Bioidentical Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, sometimes referred to as HRT, is an effective and natural way to restore hormone balance. Today, bioidentical hormones are utilized in fda-approved drugs designed to treat symptoms of menopause. Bioidentical hormones are molecularly and chemically identical to the hormones your body naturally produces.
How Do Bioidentical Hormones Work?
The hormones produced in the body control basic bodily functions in women and men alike, from growth and development, to immune function and moods to reproduction and sexual appetite — among other things. When hormone levels fall out of their normal, optimal range due to age-related changes or an underlying health condition, it can take a negative toll on the body, as well as emotional well being.
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plants and can be used to optimize and restore hormone balance during perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. Menopause occurs when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 months. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing the same levels of sex steroid hormones (estrogen , progesterone and testosterone ). This decline in ovarian hormone production is what leads to the undesired symptoms that middle-aged women experience. Hormone replacement therapy is implemented to offset these symptoms and restore balance. While estrogen and progesterone are the most commonly replaced hormones in women, other hormones such as thyroid, DHEA, and testosterone may also be included in your treatment depending on your symptoms, levels, and individual needs. I make an effort to individually tailor HRT to meet each woman’s specific needs. It is not a cookie-cutter process and every woman is different and responds differently.
I like to use bioidentical hormones in my patients because they are chemically identical to the naturally occurring hormones produced in the human body. While there are risks and benefits of every medication, estrogen replacement therapy has been medically shown to reduce medical conditions such as Osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheirmer’s. There are a few reasons that women can’t take HRT including those who:
- Have a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or womb cancer
- Have a history of blood clots
- Have untreated high blood pressure
- Have liver disease
- Are pregnant
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy for Menopause
Menopause is defined as an absence of menses for a period of 12 months. In the U.S., women typically begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, however early or late onset is not uncommon. There are stages of a woman’s reproductive timeline which can be broken down into four subgroups; pre menopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.
During the perimenopause, which typically occurs when a woman is in her late thirties or early forties, hormone levels fluctuate up and down, which cause a disruption in the body’s equilibrium. The fluctuation in hormones (as opposed to abruptly declining levels at menopause) is what causes irregular menstrual periods, changes in menstrual flow as well as the duration of menstruation and symptoms of moodiness, memory as well as sleep changes. The perimenopause continues until the ovaries stop producing adequate amounts of hormones all together. Although we do not stop making eggs when we become menopausal, we stop producing enough hormones to maintain ovarian function and as a result, with aging, the quality of our eggs declines. During menopause women will also experience an array of additional symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, memory, mood, and sleep changes as well as weight gain. A reduction in sex drive, and vaginal dryness frequently can occur in perimenopausal, menopausal, and post menopausal women.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy After a Hysterectomy
During a hysterectomy, the uterus and possibly ovaries are surgically removed. If you undergo a total hysterectomy, which removes both the uterus and ovaries, your body will lose its primary supply of the sex steroid hormones mentioned earlier. Even in the event of a subtotal hysterectomy, which only removes the uterus, ovarian function can still decline due to changes in the blood supply to the ovaries following removal of the uterus. This is why many women experience menopausal symptoms after hysterectomy even if the ovaries are left in place.
The best medical solution available for the effects of hysterectomy-induced early menopause is hormone replacement therapy because it supplies your body with the hormones it that it can no longer produce, alleviating your menopausal symptoms. Based on your surgery and the changes you are experiencing, we can come up with a personalized HRT treatment plan by determining what hormones your body is missing as well as the best delivery system to restore them. It is critical that you speak to your doctor BEFORE undergoing hysterectomy as to whether or not you are a candidate for HRT. If you are, the medications should be started immediately after surgery.
What Symptoms Will Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Treat?
Age-related hormone imbalances can cause a variety of health concerns and frustrations. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, then you may be a good candidate for HRT. As an expert in Female sexual and menopausal health, I focus on the whole woman, and take a comprehensive and holistic approach to optimizing hormone balance rather than just treating its symptoms. Once I have designed an individualized treatment plan for your specific needs, my patients regularly experience alleviation of these common perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Weight gain; particularly in belly area
- Memory loss or “brain fog”
- Loss of interest in sex
- Pain during intercourse
- Sleep issues
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of lean muscle mass
What Age Should I Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Be proactive! The best way to prevent illness and disease is to take a proactive role in your health care and take action before your medical concerns become a significant issue. While there is no wrong age to have your hormone levels checked, generally speaking, when you start experiencing symptoms, its a good time to have your hormone levels assessed. Even if you are not experiencing full on menopausal symptoms, your comprehensive test results can be useful for a later comparison as hormone changes continue to change and decline with age.
Your Individualized Hormone Treatment Protocol
When it comes to hormone therapy, everyone is different. My individualized hormone therapies are customized to address your specific individual needs and goals. During your initial one-on-one consultation, a comprehensive evaluation will establish the optimum baseline levels for your hormones and identify deficiencies. Your symptoms, and medical history will help me to develop an individualized treatment plan that will function to optimize your health and decrease negative symptoms. Your progress will be monitored regularly, and I will continue to test and review your lab results to make adjustments as necessary to ensure that you feel your very best.
Treatment protocols for bioidentical hormone therapy patients include:
- Treatment for ALL of your hormones that have affected the aging process including thyroid, adrenal gland, and HGH deficiencies.
- Customized treatment dosages that are tailored to your body’s specific needs.
- Safe and highly-effective hormone delivery.
- Ongoing testing and monitoring of your treatment and hormone levels
In addition to bioidentical hormone therapy, I frequently combine hormone treatment plans with a multi-faceted approach that may include specific dietary changes, antioxidants and nutritional supplements to address concerns with weight gain, inflammation and nutrition deficiencies associated with the aging process as well as aesthetic treatments for skin tightening and melting fat, as needed or desired.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
As a natural and bio-compatible treatment option, bioidentical hormone therapy is a safe option with limited side effects. However, all medical treatments have risks and the side effects of hormone therapy can vary for each individual. Some women may experience side effects during the early stages of their treatment as their body adjusts to its new hormone levels. In most cases, these symptoms will resolve on their own within the first few months. Side effects of bioidentical hormone therapy may include:
- Breast tenderness
- Increased facial hair
In most cases, the benefits and relief women feel from their symptoms with bioidentical hormone therapy far outweigh the risks and side effects, but it isn’t right for everyone. Women with certain pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure will need special consideration before receiving a bioidentical hormone prescription. During our consultation, we will sit down and discuss all of the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy to help determine if it is the right option for you.
What to Expect From Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
The results you can expect from your bioidentical hormone replacement therapy will vary from patient to patient depending on your needs and how you respond to your dosage. While it will take some time for your body to adjust to your optimized hormone levels, most women can expect to observe noticeable improvements to their symptoms within a few weeks, with full results apparent after three to six months. Some of the benefits that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy offers women include:
- A heightened sense of well-being
- Boosted energy levels
- Improved moods
- Increased libido
- Improved vaginal lubrication
- Weight loss and increased muscle mass
- Reduced hot flashes
- Better cognitive function and short term memory
- More enjoyable intercourse
Schedule Your Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Consultation Today
Getting older is a part of life, but it shouldn’t take a toll on your quality of life or happiness. If you are experiencing unwelcomed shifts to your moods, energy levels or sex life, there is a solution. Call my office to schedule a consultation and together, we can develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle. As a leading expert in the field of women’s sexual health, I can help you optimize your health and hormone levels so that you can reclaim your sexual health and wellness. To learn more about hormone replacement therapy, ask a question, or schedule your first appointment, contact my office at (310) 772-0072 or email me directly at [email protected].
*Female Urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman has written information about Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy that has been carefully reviewed. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us using our form.