Bio-identical hormone therapy, or BHRT, is quickly becoming the preferred method for treating hormonal imbalances. From low estrogen to low testosterone to thyroid gland complications, BHRT provides a safe, effective solution.
A common way of administering bio-identical hormones is using creams. This is known as transdermal delivery. This means that the bio-identical hormones are placed on the skin and absorbed through your bloodstream. Many people prefer using creams because the method of application is so familiar; it's not dissimilar to applying skin lotion.
There are many causes for hormonal imbalances. These causes include aging, menopause or andropause, childbirth, stress, depression, psychological trauma, chronic disease, and medications. Bio-identical hormone therapy adds hormones in addition to the body's own hormones to achieve an optimal level. Hormones are designed to be in balance and most often declining levels of one hormone must be balanced by supplementing other hormones. There are several types of bio-identical hormones which are available. Some symptoms of hormonal imbalance and the hormone associated with the imbalance include:
Progesterone-nervousness, agitation, restless sleep, breast tenderness or swelling, lower belly swelling, irritability, painful and/or heavy periods
Testosterone-loss of muscle tone, slackness and more facial wrinkles, tiredness, belly fat, decreased sex drive, lack of confidence, decreased sexual performance, hot flashes/sweats, tire easily with physical activity
DHEA-dry skin and hair, flabby muscles, lack of underarm hair, intolerance to noise, low libido
Thyroid Hormone-Cold hands and feet, puffy face and/or eyelids, weight gain, dry skin, trouble getting up in the morning, tiredness throughout the day, constipation, joint stiffness
Estrogen-Losing hair on the top of the head, facial wrinkles, hairy face, hot flashes, constantly tired, depression, heavy periods
How Do Bio-Identical Hormones Differ From Synthetic Hormones?
Unlike bio-identical hormones, non-bioidentical hormones are modified. Their chemical structure differs from that of the natural hormone. Most are synthetically modified such as ethylestradiol which is used in birth control pills. Etylestradiol is a synthetic derivative of the natural female hormone estradiol. Non-bioidentical hormones can also be natural hormones but come from another species such as conjugated estrogens which come from the urine of pregnant mares. The differences in chemical structures between synthetic and natural hormones can cause either too much or too little binding to hormone receptor sites on cells leading to unintended, adverse effects. In addition, the human liver was not meant to process these hormones and often breaks down non-bioidentical hormones slower than bio-identical hormones. This allows for synthetic hormones to accumulate in the body.
Bio-identical hormones supplement declining hormone levels caused by aging, stress, and other factors. Treatment with bio-identical hormones is aimed at correction, not replacement, of hormone levels. This is in contrast to synthetic hormones which are often used for hormone replacement or substitution. Synthetic hormones replace the hormones produced by the human body with exogenous hormones that differ from the natural ones. For example, birth control pills completely block the internal sex hormone production by the ovaries and replace these hormones with synthetic estrogens and progestins. When dosed correctly, bio-identical hormones suppress only 10-40% of natural hormone production and the suppression is temporary. Corrective bio-identical hormone dosing allows the endocrine glands to calm down and avoid overworking.
Starting Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
Bio-identical hormones can provide relief for a variety of health issues. With the many types of BHRT available and the necessity to achieve a good balance among all hormones, it's best to talk to a doctor trained in bio-identical hormone therapy. If you need more information about which type of BHRT is best for your needs, please call or request more information online.