Home | Functional Medicine | Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) is a general term that describes treatment for symptoms related to low hormone levels such as thyroid hormone, estrogen, progesterone or testosterone in women and men. Hormones are chemical messengers, released by the endocrine glands into the bloodstream. They act as signals between cells throughout your body. In addition to steroid hormones, it is important to look at how all your hormones are functioning, including your thyroid and adrenals. Dr. Stephen Matta, DO specializes in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine using Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy at Meeting Point Health in Philadelphia. He uses regular testing and follow-ups to ensure his treatments are precise and individualized.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is the use of hormones that are identical on the molecular level to the ones produced by your body to treat conditions in which your own natural hormone production is low. BHRT is used to treat symptoms associated with low thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone hormone levels in both men and women. Hormones are chemical messengers, released by your endocrine glands into your bloodstream, that are essential to the proper functioning of cells throughout your body.
BHRT uses hormones that have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your body and are derived from plant materials as well as mammalian sources. Synthetic hormones (such as Premarin and Provera) do not have the same molecular structure as the hormones produced by your body, and therefore can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease or certain cancers.
Various conditions can be treated with BHRT including:
The benefits of BHRT are different from person to person, so your doctor needs to monitor your treatment carefully. It may take several months of hormone therapy before the beneficial effects begin.
We all know that as women age, there is a significant drop in estrogen levels. This causes symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and irritation, mood swings, fatigue, low libido, and weight gain. There is also an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. To combat these symptoms and risks, many doctors prescribe estrogen replacement therapy.
Estrogen replacement therapy provides low dosages via pills or patches, generally in pill form. The benefits of estrogen replacement therapy for women are great and include:
Estrogen Replacement Therapy should not be done without close medical supervision and regular hormone testing. While estrogen can stimulate cells that promote the growth of cancerous tumors, the risk of estrogen-related cancers can be markedly reduced by taking progesterone along with estrogen replacement. In fact, women who take both hormones actually have a decreased chance of heart attack as opposed to those not receiving any treatment at all.
Many women suffer from a deficiency of progesterone or too much estrogen. This creates a picture called Estrogen Dominance with symptoms such as:
Causes of estrogen dominance include problems breaking down estrogen in the liver, high cortisol levels with insulin resistance, weight gain, toxic xenoestrogens such as BPA, long term use of hormone-based contraceptives.
Progesterone replacement therapy along with appropriate diet and detoxification of estrogen can help reduce symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can help increase testosterone levels in many men who suffer from low testosterone or andropause. If you have been experiencing certain symptoms of low testosterone such as those listed here, it’s time to test your sex hormones and get on a treatment plan.
A condition called “secondary hypogonadism” can develop as a result of another medical condition such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes or obesity. In these cases, TRT with testosterone alone may not correct both the physical symptoms and sexual problems caused by this secondary hypogonadism. In such cases, it is necessary to treat the cardiometabolic condition while also using testosterone replacement to help alleviate symptoms.
TRT is usually done with a gel or patch that is applied daily or as an injectable pellet therapy you receive in the office once every few months.
Your thyroid can become sluggish due to a number of factors:
The intricacy of thyroid hormone balance is an interplay of various anatomy, not just your thyroid gland. Your brain, liver, kidneys, adrenals, blood proteins and muscles are all involved in activating thyroid hormone. Problems arise when:
We use a combination of medications and treatments for thyroid replacement therapy, especially in cases of Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis:
Before starting BHRT, you will have a consultation and evaluation with a Meeting Point Health professional. Your evaluation will include a physical exam and lab tests. Thereafter, we will determine if you are a candidate for BHRT and, if so, what is the best dosage and BHRT modality for addressing your symptoms.
The goal of hormone replacement therapy, whether it’s with sex hormone, thyroid hormone, melatonin or others is to replace the hormone that your body isn’t producing enough of.
As with all HRT, well-being is relatively easy to maintain as long as it’s working for you – but if not, then the dosage may need to be adjusted. We will likely repeat a blood test to readjust your medication and fine-tune how much hormone you need to feel good again.
Women who experience severe menopausal symptoms, such as mood swings, difficulty sleeping, headaches or painful intercourse are ideal candidates for BHRT. Also, women who experience menopause early as a result of chemotherapy or an oophorectomy can benefit from BHRT.
If you have tried other recommended therapies and made the suggested lifestyle changes and still have not experienced relief from menopausal symptoms, then ask your doctor if BHRT is right for you.
Some people feel better immediately. It may take a few weeks to several months of hormone therapy before the beneficial effects begin.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy can be prescribed as:
At Meeting Point Health, we will use Precision Analytics DUTCH Hormone Test or Vibrant Wellness. Depending on where you are in treatment, and what hormones we are testing, the collected specimen may be saliva, urine, or blood.
These panels are an in-depth comprehensive review of sex and adrenal hormones including:
We’ll often combine a hormone panel with other tests such as:
We also may add testing for serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – these are hormones from your brain that work together with your ovaries or testes to stimulate production of your sex hormones.
Hormone therapy can have side effects if not dosed properly. Your endocrine system is sensitive to changes and may take time to achieve the optimal therapeutic dose. Some commonly experienced side effects include:
Daily if oral or topical; weekly injections; or quarterly for pellet therapy
We’ll first order an in-depth hormone panel before prescribing treatments.
If you are curious whether you have a hormone imbalance, regardless of your age, reach out and schedule a consult to discuss your questions and goals. We’re excited to meet you and get started with your journey!
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