Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women

Hormonal imbalance affects millions of women in the United States. Conditions, such as menopause, thyroid dysfunction, and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) are linked to out-of-balance hormones. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be life-altering. From mood swings and insomnia to weight gain and hair loss, 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 balance is safely and effectively restored with bio-identical hormone therapy and a comprehensive treatment plan from a qualified practitioner specializing in hormone health and hormone therapy.

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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.

Hormonal imbalance can affect women of all ages and early symptoms are easily dismissed as stress from daily living, leaving many women suffering longer than necessary. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), perimenopause and menopause are all influenced by hormonal fluctuations. None of these conditions should cause extreme discomfort or anxiety, therefore if your symptoms are distressing, this is a sign you need to speak to an expert physician about your hormone health.

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. In fact, research has shown that the average doctor is ill equipped to help modern women manage menopausal symptoms. An antiquated system that fails to keep up with the times or an inept review of current research may be the reasons many general practitioners are uncertain of the most effective treatments for menopause. Either way, 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 side step the 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 study1 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 bio-identical 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.

Conditions of Hormone Imbalance Affecting Women

Thyroid Disorders

Women are five times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder than men. More diagnoses occur in people over the age of 60 than any other age group, however most people with a thyroid disorder—60 percent—are unaware they have the condition for many years prior to diagnosis. The thyroid impacts a number of everyday functions in the body, including regulating your metabolism, sleep-wake cycles, appetite hormones, and much more. Early on, the symptoms are easy to dismiss, as they are very similar to the side effects of every day stressors, such poor sleep, changes in appetite and moodiness. However, an untreated thyroid issue can be dangerous. In addition to affecting wellbeing and quality of life, a dysfunctional thyroid can put women at risk for serious diseases, such as heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. The signs and symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid include feeling tired or sluggish, losing or gaining weight, hair loss, heart palpitations, heat/cold intolerance, anxiety and mood swings. Women who suspect their thyroid is dysfunctional, should seek treatment.

Low Sexual Desire

Puberty, pregnancy and menopause can lead to hormonal fluctuations that cause sexual desire to wane. Women may suffer from a single sexual dysfunction, like vaginal dryness or pain with intercourse, while others may struggle with desire for sexual interaction itself. Women diagnosed with a condition characterized by distress or anxiety related to the absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity in women. This is known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD. HSDD affects one in 10 women and is the most common sexual health complaint among women.

Hormonal imbalances can play a significant role in female sex drive and sexual disorder. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can cause sexual health issues. Even an imbalance of thyroid hormones can affect sexual function. Women whose low sex drive is related to a hormonal imbalance may notice that their impaired desire for sex is also accompanied by symptoms, such as weight gain, sleeplessness or mood swings.

Bioidentical hormone therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for this type of hormone imbalance in women. In 2016, a study2 of the effects of hormone therapy on sexual desire in women found that estrogen therapy effectively increased sexual desire in postmenopausal women. When testosterone was added to a low-dose estrogen therapy, sexual desire was further enhanced.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Approximately seven to 14 days before your period begins, premenstrual symptoms may appear. The discomforts vary from woman to woman—it is believed that there are more than 200 symptoms of PMS. Some women may experience bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches, acne, insomnia, and fatigue. However, emotional distress is also a factor, especially for women suffering from PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. PMDD is a severe form of PMS characterized by deeply psychological and intense symptoms that often affect work and social interactions. These symptoms may include mood swings, anxiety, irritability, tension, depression and anger.

These symptoms are related to the hormonal fluctuations that occur before and during the menstrual cycle. Diet and physical activity level have an impact on the severity of symptoms as well. Women suffering from severe PMS and PMDD can benefit from a treatment plan that incorporates hormone therapy as well as nutritional changes and routine exercise.

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.

Bioidentical hormones are hormones derived from naturally-occurring sources, such as soy or yams. Bioidentical hormones are compounded in a lab and designed to be structurally indistinguishable from the natural hormones made by the human body. The term, "bioidentical," refers to this structural replication. The exact-match replication of bioidentical hormones enhances the effectiveness of the treatment as well as reduces side effects and risks.

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. Your prescription is carefully determined by an experienced and highly-trained hormone therapy practitioner after a consultation with you. Your practitioner will review your case and discuss your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle and lab results. He or she will assess the best prescription to meet the specific needs of your body. Hormonal balance is not achieved by meeting some universal standard of normal—balance is reached when optimal function is restored for you.

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. It is essential that women who seek hormone therapy choose an expert medical practitioner who has advanced training and pursues continuing education in hormone health, and is one who will take the time to understand their condition and medical history before administering treatment.

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 hormones3,4,5,6. 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 hormones5,6.

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 begins to diminish. Women who seek bioidentical hormone therapy to address the hormonal imbalances that occur as a result of these changes or aging, often experience improvements in health and quality of life.

The benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy for women are vast. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (hrt) is a more natural solution with fewer side effects and better results. Reversing the signs and discomforts of aging is just one benefit. Diseases and conditions that affect women as they age, such as perimenopause, menopause and low sexual desire may be treated with bioidentical hormone therapy. Women may also enjoy other benefits, such as more energy, weight loss and improved moods.

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.

Choosing bioidentical hormone therapy also earns women the protective benefits that comes with adequate hormone levels. BHRT not only relieves symptoms, but also effectively protects women against osteoporosis and heart disease.

Treatments with bioidentical hormone therapy are tailored to the specific needs of each patient. Bioidentical hormones do what synthetic treatments cannot—ideally replicate and replace the missing hormones in your body, restoring optimal function, not just some obscure standard of "normal."

Bioidentical Female Hormone Replacement Therapy Program

You are the only person that can decide if bioidentical hormone therapy is the right choice for your health. The expert practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network are dedicated to helping women of all ages struggling with various forms of hormone imbalance achieve better health and a higher quality of life. Most treatment plans include bioidentical hormone replacement therapy because of its safety and effectiveness for the treatment of hormone imbalance. When you choose BodyLogicMD, you are choosing a medical practitioner who specializes in hormone health and balance and is highly-trained in functional medicine. You are getting the highest level of care in hormonal health.

Your treatment plan will begin with advanced lab testing. To determine the best treatment plan for you, you will need to complete state-of-the-art preliminary laboratory testing designed to enhance diagnoses and pinpoint hormonal imbalances. Testing includes collecting samples of your saliva, urine and/or blood to assess your current hormone levels.

Following testing, your practitioner will schedule a consultation with you to discuss the results of your lab tests as well as review your medical history. During the consultation, your practitioner will spend time with you getting to know you and understand your lifestyle, symptoms, and goals for treatment. Your practitioner will partner with you to evaluate the different therapy options available to treat your medical concerns and achieve your health goals. This very thorough review and dedication to understanding your unique needs and preferences is what sets BodyLogicMD apart from other bioidentical hormonepractitioners.

Bioidentical hormone therapy is only part of the solution to optimize your health and well being. Comprehensive treatment plans also incorporate a variety of pharmaceutical grade supplements or medicinal herbs, as well as personalized nutrition and fitness recommendations to support achievement of your goals.

After you begin treatment, your practitioner will continue to monitor and re-evaluate your hormone levels with routine lab testing and follow-up consultations. This follow-up is important for achieving and maintaining your results. Depending on the severity of your symptoms or advancement of your condition, it can take some time and adjustments to doses to reach optimal levels of balance and function for your body. To achieve your goals, you have to expect that it will take time and dedication. Bioidentical hormone therapy and associated treatment plans are not a "quick-fix." The practitioners of BodyLogicMD are here to support you every step of the way, if you are dedicated to achieving your goals.

Individualized treatment programs include:

  • Highly trained bioidentical hormone practitioners specializing in natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and treatments for women
  • Comprehensive hormone level testing including blood, saliva and urine
  • Thorough analysis of lab results, symptoms, medical, family and personal history
  • Personalized female hormone replacement therapy programs that match solutions with symptoms
  • Quality compounded hormones and pharmaceutical-grade supplements
  • Nutritional guidance and support
  • Customized women's health and fitness programs

Women can achieve balance. With the support of experts, like the practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network, you can succeed through proven ideologies, such as balanced nutrition, routine fitness and advanced therapies, including bioidentical hormone therapy. The practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network are dedicated to partnering with you to ensure you reach your goals for health and wellbeing year after year.

Read about Bioidentical Hormones For Men


References
1 A critique of Women’s Health Initiative Studies (2002-2006)
2 Increasing Women’s Sexual Desire: The Comparative Effectiveness of Estrogens and Androgens
3 Effectiveness of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Observational Cohort Study
4 Efficacy and Tolerability of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
5 A Comprehensive Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Bioidentical Hormones for the Management of Menopause and Related Health Risks
6 Bioidentical Hormones: An Evidence-Based Review for Primary care Providers


Updated March 5, 2019
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