Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
Hormonal changes during menopause affects millions of women. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be life changing. From mood swings and insomnia to weight gain and hair loss. After menopause the lack of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone causes even more dramatic changes, bone lose can accelerate with up to 10% or more during the first 5 years, there are also skin changes, muscle loss, decreased libido to name a few. Women suffering from symptoms of hormone imbalance can find relief. Better yet, women can experience better health and a higher quality of life when hormone supplementation/replacement is safely and effectively restored with our individualized bio-identical hormone therapy program that will not only monitor your hormones, but also will address and look for other risk factors. Being healthy means more than simply “not being sick”. It means having a sharp and focused mind, boundless energy and enthusiasm, and a body that is in peak condition.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance in Women
Hormones play a key role in regulating most major body processes, including metabolism, appetite, heart rate, sleep cycles, fertility, sexual function, mood, stress and body temperature, as well as growth and development. When even one hormone is out of balance, your entire wellbeing may be affected. If you have been experiencing symptoms like those listed below, your hormone levels may be out of balance.
Most of these conditions are seen as normal aging, but if you and your life style are being affected by them, call our office for a consultation.
Menopause and Hormonal Imbalance
Menopause is among the leading causes of hormonal imbalance among middle-aged women. On average, most women begin to experience menopausal changes around the age of 51, however symptoms can occur much sooner. Some women endure symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and short-term memory lapses, for as many as 14 years, limiting productivity at work, affecting relationships at home and seriously degrading health and quality of life.
Despite being a common issue, menopausal treatments are often limited or not offered by many physicians. Women over 50 who want to continue to grow their career or travel the world rather than sit home and fan off hot flashes can do just that—there are viable treatment options for the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
Since 2010, more than 10 major medical organizations have come forward to endorse menopausal hormone therapy, heralding it as the best treatment for menopause. Yet, many doctors still concern with this therapy citing dangerous side effects and risk of disease. This fear began in 2002 when the widely-publicized Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)—the largest study ever conducted on the effects of hormone therapy—was halted because female subjects were falling ill. The study has since been reviewed and analyzed by experts nationwide, finding that the study’s design and methods were faulty and that the use of synthetic hormones—synthetic estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) were largely to blame.
Since then, reviews of the WHI have opened the eyes of the medical community and led many to seek more effective treatments for menopause. Physicians specializing in hormone health realized that bioidentical hormones, which are a structural match to the hormones found in the human body, reduced or eliminated symptoms of menopause, while improving safety and effectiveness.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Bioidentical hormones are a form of hormone therapy that has existed since the 1930s and has had resurgence in popularity over the last two decades. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has helped thousands of men and women enjoy a healthier, higher quality of life by restoring hormonal balance without the side effects commonly associated with synthetic hormones.
A bio-identical steroid hormone is not human in origin but is identical in organic structure and function to human hormones. Bio-identical hormones are derived from a type of plant oil called diosgenin, which is very similar in chemical structure to our endogenous precursor steroid hormone, cholesterol. Diosgenin is extracted from soybeans and wild yams. Diosgenin is then chemically altered in a lab to exactly match our human bio-identical steroids.
Bioidentical hormone prescriptions are filled at a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacies operate under guidelines established by the FDA and compound bioidentical hormones are made to the exact strength and dosage as prescribed by the attending practitioner. In many cases, bioidentical hormones cannot be patented and made into mass prescription forms by large pharmaceutical companies because of the very precise dosing methods. Dr Gargiulo will review your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle and lab results. He will then write a prescription that will be precisely filled by the compounding pharmacy. Four to five weeks later Dr Gargiulo will do a reevaluation of improvement of your symptoms and a new set of labs will be ordered to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments. Hormonal and body changes did not occur overnight, for the same reason correction of some symptoms are fast, but many other changes will take months or years to gradually correct (bone density).
Side Effects and Research on Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
A large number of research studies have shown evidence that hormone therapy using bioidentical hormones results in fewer side effects and negative outcomes when compared to synthetic hormones. However, it is important to note that no drug, supplement or herb is 100 percent recommended or safe for every individual. The choice to pursue hormone therapy is not only very personal, but it requires expert administration to ensure safety and effectiveness.
The safety and effectiveness of hormone therapy has been studied frequently in the last 30 years. Namely because one of the largest studies ever conducted on hormone therapy elicited startling outcomes and sparked unnecessary controversy in the medical community. The 1991 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)1 hypothesized that therapy with o-estrogen and progestin—synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone—would reduce the risk of fractures and heart disease in women. Instead, the study was forced to a halt in 2002 when the treatment resulted in an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke among the subjects. Initially after the study results were released, many doctors and patients labeled all forms of hormone therapy as “snake oil” and sought alternatives that were often less effective. Many women were left suffering with symptoms of hormone imbalance with little hope for relief. Over the years, however, the study has been thoroughly reviewed by the scientific community. Researchers have found the study design and methods to be faulty: many of the study’s participants were over age 60 and already at risk for disease and the combination of synthetic therapies was not suitable for the treatment.
More recently, many smaller studies have examined the safety and efficacy of bioidentical hormones. The results show that for symptoms, such as mood swings, night sweats, hot flashes, anxiety and irritability, bioidentical hormones are safe and effective when administered under the care and supervision of a medical practitioner. Bioidentical hormone therapy carries a lower risk of negative effects on clinical outcomes related to cardiovascular, breast, bone, and brain health than synthetic hormones.
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy for Women
Hormones affect numerous body systems. Women endure multiple significant hormonal fluctuations in a lifetime, not to mention at least once per month. Hormonal imbalances are the root cause of many chronic health problems that increase the risk of disease. Among women, the symptoms typically first appear in perimenopause or menopause, when estrogen, progesterone and testosterone production begin to diminish. Women who seek bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) to address the hormonal imbalances that occur as a result of these changes or aging, often experience improvements in health and quality of life.
Treatments for hormonal imbalance in women may include therapy using progesterone, estrogen, testosterone or a combination of hormones. Specific conditions, like thyroid disorders, may require supplementing triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) or addressing unbalanced cortisol levels that can influence thyroid function.
BHRT not only relieves symptoms, but also effectively protects women against osteoporosis, heart disease, breast and uterine cancer
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