Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
From conception, hormones, which are produced by the endocrine glands, serve as messengers from your brain, telling your internal organs how to function. As we age your body’s capacity to function declines. You see loss of muscle mass, weakness, impaired mobility, balance, and poor endurance. You develop age related diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and even cancers.
Traditionally the aging process has been considered to be physiological and unavoidable, however in recent years an increasing number of people are NOT willing to accept the stereotypical aging process as normal. Our goal if you decide to do hormone therapy is to get you back to optimal level. By optimizing hormones you don't just survive, you thrive!
Hormones, we all have them
Hormones are responsible for a large part of the aging changes you can experience. Bio-identical hormone therapy offers a long-term replacement option for one or more hormones you may be low in. This replacement will delay the aging process and allow you to live for longer periods in a healthier state.
Women have 7 hormones that can be replaced; estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, DHEA, Pregnenolone and melatonin. Each hormone has its function in the body both independently and codependently.
Men have 5 hormones that can be replaced; testosterone, DHEA, thyroid, Pregnenolone, and melatonin.
Bio-identical vs Conventional Hormones
Bio-identical hormones are all plant based, we call them natural because they are natural to the body. They have been extracted from vegetables and processed by a compounding pharmacy into a prescription dose and form that is the same molecular structure as the hormones our body produces. The body accepts and metabolizes these hormones as if it made them itself.
Conventional hormones can be plant or chemical based, but they all have a different molecular structure than the hormones we produce in our body.
Bio-identical hormones are protected by federal regulation and may not be patented, therefore major pharmaceutical manufacturers are not interested because the medications are not exclusive or profitable for them.
Female levels of estrogen and progesterone drop drastically after menopause. It comes as no surprise that, after menopause, heart disease in women skyrockets, surpassing even the male population. It is the leading cause of death in older women in the United States, more than twice as many as all cancer deaths combined.
Estrogen has been prescribed for over 50 years to women in menopause to give them relief from sweating, fatigue, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, depression and decreased sex drive. Replacing estrogen increased muscle quality, mental outlook, and skin as well as decreases the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Progesterone should always be balanced with estrogen. Progesterone helps to decrease pre-menstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms. Natural progesterone protects against uterine and breast carcinoma, heart disease, osteoporosis, fibrocystic breast disease, and ovarian cysts.
There are progesterone receptor sites all over the body; brain, lungs, nerves, skin, adrenal glands, uterus, eyes, and throat. Many doctors will tell you after a hysterectomy you no longer need progesterone replacement…WRONG.
When progesterone is low in other areas of the body you are more susceptible to breast cancer, fluid retention, bloating, headaches, bleeding, fibroids, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, responsible for male sexual development and critical in maintaining erectile function, libido, normal energy levels, muscle mass, bone density, and mood.
In women testosterone is present in a much smaller amount than in men, but in fact is produced in the ovaries. It helps to control a woman's libido and also appears to enhance the function of estrogen.
Testosterone prolongs the quality of life by decreasing the diseases of aging as does estrogen. It protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, excess body fat, and arthritis; as well as enhancing memory, stimulates cardiovascular system, neurologic system, muscles, bones, and the vascular system. It also helps to prevent tendon and joint degeneration and osteoporosis.
Thyroid is the most misunderstood hormone. Overall body function is dependent on the thyroid to work correctly and the hormones being in balance. There are two types of thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is inactive and kept in reserve in the thyroid until it is needed then it is converted to T3, the active thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones control the growth, differentiation, and metabolism of each cell in the body. They also control how fast our body uses the fuel that we consume particularly carbohydrates and fat. This helps to regulate our body temperature and body fat percentage.
There are over 200 symptoms related to thyroid deficiencies. If any of your thyroid hormones are low you can experience a number of symptoms at one time. The most common symptoms include fatigue, lower body temperature, greater susceptibility to colds and viruses, depression and mood swings, weight gain, dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, headaches, high cholesterol. Thyroid helps to protect our body from cardiovascular disease, improves cerebral metabolism, and prevents cognitive impairment.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is produced in the brain, in the adrenal cortex. It is one of the most abundant hormones in the body and is a precursor to testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. DHEA has a profound ability to boost our immune system by controlling the production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. DHEA helps the brain to function improving memory and mental acuity. It also helps to improve mood, energy, and sex drive.
DHEA is available over the counter; however it only lasts about 6 hours in the body. Whereas bio-identical DHEA is sustained released and micronized and will last 24 hours.
Pregnenolone is found in high concentrations in the brain and keeps our brain functioning at peak capacity. It also is a precursor to DHEA and can stimulate the production of estrogen and testosterone. Pregnenolone is also widely used to treat arthritis; it decreases pain, improves mobility, and increases energy and strength. It has also been shown to help other disorders such as scleroderma and psoriasis. Currently research is being done to test pregnenolone’s ability to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Melatonin is produced naturally in the body by the pineal gland. Levels are higher at night and are suppressed by bright light during the day. Melatonin declines as we age. Melatonin manages our natural circadian rhythms and helps to control our sleep/wake cycle which allows quality rest at night and optimal function during the day.
Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant and in studies has shown to be beneficial to patients who have cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, and in patients after a stroke to reduce brain damage. We hope to see more research in the future.
Risk of taking Hormones
The Womens’ Health Initiative (WHI) is a study that focused on the use of Premarin (synthetic estrogen) and Prempro (synthetic estrogen and progestin (NOT progesterone)). The trial was stopped early because of the increased risk of breast cancer detected in the early stages of the study. Later this risk was related to the progestin portion of the regimen. It did not show and increased risk of cancer with Premarin, however the study did show Premarin increased the incidence of strokes in older women. A recent study showed that natural estrogen did not have the same effects. Unfortunately the media targeted all hormone therapy, not just the synthetic progestin and estrogen.
It is best to begin bio-identical hormone therapy replacement as soon as you begin to lose the hormones to avoid any length of time without their protective benefits.
You need hormones, but you need the right kind, in the right balance. Bio-identical hormones is a safe alternative and available at MacDonald Healthcare. Call today for your free consultation or to get started by drawing lab levels after your first appointment.