As women age, their natural hormone levels ultimately decrease. Estrogen levels abruptly decline at menopause. Testosterone levels typically more gradually decline. Common symptoms of low estrogen include decreased vaginal lubrication, increased frequency of UTIs, mood swings, hot flashes, breast tenderness, headaches or worsening migraines, depression, trouble concentrating and fatigue. Lack of estrogen also contributes to decreased bone density and increase in fractures. Common symptoms of low testosterone in women include decreased muscle mass and muscle weakness, fatigue, decreased sex drive and sexual satisfaction, sleep disturbances and sometimes loss of bone density. Hormone pellet therapy can be an effective way to treat these symptoms and restore hormonal function.
What Does Bio-identical Mean?
The term bio-identical has been overly promoted and typically not well understood. The term simply means that the hormonal compound has the identical molecular structure of naturally produced hormones. Many, but not all, pharmaceutical hormonal medicines are not identical in structure to naturally occuring hormones. For instance, medroxyprogesterone is not actually pure progesterone – it is altered by adding another molecular group. There are many biochemically altered hormone-like pharmaceuticals that work on normal hormone receptors, however they can have side effects that the native hormones don’t typically have. Compounded hormone pellets are created from a plant derived hormone precursor. The more important issue with hormone pelleting is the route of administration. Many patients benefit from the convenience of and prefer the predictability of their symptoms with hormone pelleting. Pelleted hormones have more stable blood levels on a daily basis.
There has been much written and much concern regarding potential risks of hormone replacement therapy. Data from some studies shows a slight increased risk of certain types of cancer and incidence of heart attack and stroke. Other numerous studies show decreased risk. Hormone therapy is not for everyone, and the decision requires a detailed discussion with a physician experienced in the area so that you can understand the benefits but also the controversial potential risks. The benefits can certainly be profound and many of our patients feel that their lives are transformed. We counsel our patients regularly regarding cancer and heart disease prevention behaviors including screening, nutrition, nutraceutical supplementation, exercise, healthy sleep and decreased stress.