Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is an effective solution for the challenges of hormonal imbalance for both men and women. As we age, our bodies face hormonal changes that can affect our functional systems and lead to frustrating side effects. Our talented specialists at MacMed Spa in Milford, MA are experts at formulating the most effective, individualized hormone replacement treatment plans for nearly everyone.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: How Fast Does It Work?
The good news for men and women seeking BHRT is that many patients report more manageable symptoms within days of treatment. Research shows that the full effect of treatment is typically felt by the eighth week. Nonetheless, everyone experiences BHRT differently, and several factors will influence how quickly your symptoms will abate.
By two months, most patients report significantly less anxiety, fatigue, depression, and other uncomfortable symptoms. At this point, they often find themselves feeling a renewed sense of motivation, returning to work or hobbies they once abandoned when their symptoms began. As their energy returns, so do improved sleep, better mental health, and increased quality of life.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are molecularly identical to those produced by the body. It is different from traditional hormone replacement therapy because it uses only plant-derived hormones as opposed to synthetic or animal-derived hormones. It also is easier to make adjustments with BHRT than with traditional hormone therapy.
Hormone Optimization: An Overview
Hormones guide your body through many essential functions, such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction. They are continuously sharing information between functional systems, giving instructions for things like when to eat and sleep, and when to stop. Hormones are produced by glands that make up the endocrine system, and many things can inhibit their production.
Irregular and persistent hormone imbalances can present many challenges and create unpleasant side effects. Factors such as age, chemical interference, or health conditions can inhibit or affect hormone production. In turn, this can cause dysregulation of necessary functions like growth, reproduction, and metabolism.
Hormones Specific to Women
It might not surprise you that menopause is the number one reason women seek BHRT. Women have a unique set of hormones called which regulate reproductive functions. As a woman nears menopause, the ovaries’ activity slows down and causes a decline in these hormones. The resulting side effects can be frustrating, including the infamous hot flashes, insomnia, and exhaustion.
What’s more, when some hormone levels decline, the body tries to overcompensate by producing an excess of other hormones, creating further imbalance. To try to bring a stop to this cycle, many women explore BHRT to ease their way into menopause.
Hormones Specific to Men
Like women, men can experience a decline in the reproductive hormone testosterone. This affects men in similar ways as women – by causing anxiety, fatigue, depression, and low libido. Though some people have given it the misnomer “male menopause,” this condition is actually called andropause and only affects some men.
The Endocrine System
The glands that produce hormones are part of the functional system called the endocrine system. These glands regulate hormones specific to different functions in different organs and dispatch these hormones into the bloodstream. Problems occur when these hormones don’t actually reach their intended destination due to disruptions to the system.
Sometimes chemicals called endocrine disruptors can also affect the form and function of the endocrine system. Unfortunately, these chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment, present in everyday products such as toys, cosmetics, cleaners, and plastic bottles.
Why Hormone Changes Occur
We naturally experience a decrease in hormone production as we age, but hormone changes can occur for many other reasons. Health conditions, environmental toxins, and endocrine disorders can all contribute to imbalances. For instance, circulatory problems can mean fewer hormones reaching their destinations due to poor blood supply, and diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce insulin.
In addition, as we age and endocrine function declines, hormone receptors become less sensitive, which means they will attract and bind fewer and fewer hormones to be used by the body. This creates a domino effect and negative feedback loop: the fewer hormones received by receptors leads to greater imbalance, which in turn leads to further endocrine decline and fewer hormones received by receptors. BHRT can help put a stop to this loop.
How Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Works
The goal of BHRT is to assess the current levels of hormones in the body and determine if any hormones are being over- or under-produced. From here, the optimal hormone threshold is determined, and a personalized treatment plan is developed. Our medical specialists are experts at identifying when hormone supplementation or replacement is necessary. A consultation and a simple blood test are often all that’s needed.
Signs You May Benefit From BHRT
Most of us have busy lives and crammed schedules, causing us to experience irritability and frustration from time to time. Often we are quick to dismiss these emotions as a normal human response to ordinary hustle and bustle. However, lengthy depressive episodes, frequent emotional volatility, or debilitating anxiety are not things to dismiss. A consultation with our team can determine whether or not hormone changes are at the root of your symptoms.
Symptoms typically associated with hormone changes include weight gain or loss, low libido, and unexplained changes in bladder or bowel habits. Bone loss can occur with prolonged imbalance, putting us more at risk for falls and fractures. Our medical team will gather a comprehensive medical history to determine the best plan tailored to your needs and concerns.
Having periods of fatigue and low energy is normal after a particularly stressful week at work, or if you’ve had nights of interrupted sleep. However, a feeling of unusual exhaustion and constantly fighting to stay awake is a medical concern. These problems are not only disruptive but can also have serious consequences. Our doctors can assess your symptoms and determine if they are related to a hormonal balance.
Hormone imbalances can cause a decline in bone density, increasing the risk of spine degeneration. Our vertebrae contain discs that act as shock absorbers for our bodies. Research has shown that BHRT can help lower the risk of osteoporosis; therefore, if you are at a higher-than-average risk for falls or fractures, BHRT may be helpful.
If you feel like you have tried everything, but are still experiencing the fatigue, insomnia, low libido, and stress caused by hormone disruption, BHRT may be worth exploring. On average, patients report getting relief from their symptoms within two weeks. This catalyzes improved wellness in many areas, including quality of life.
Methods of Hormone Delivery
Our medical team at MacMed Spa uses pellet therapy as our preferred hormone delivery method. Pellets are implanted just under the skin to release a steady and consistent dose of hormones to the body. This advanced technology has improved upon years of research and has all the advantages of a convenient, consistent treatment with a high safety profile.
Because pellets are implanted transdermally, treatment bypasses the liver and gut, which decreases the risk of side effects. Conveniently, pellets only need to be replaced three to four times a year.
Pills are the most researched and most common form of HRT. For years pills were the standard delivery method, but require patient reliability in taking the pill every day. Newer, more convenient and failproof methods are becoming increasingly popular.
For those who have a difficult time remembering to take their pills, patches are a more convenient form of BHRT since they are applied to the skin and remain in place for several days. Patches are a good option for people who have stomach problems or just don’t like taking oral medications. In addition, some research suggests that the risk of blood clotting is smaller with patches than with pills.
Gels and Creams
These methods are similar to patches in that they are administered through skin absorption. Like most topical treatments, these are safer for people with liver problems or cholesterol concerns. It is important, however, that these topical treatments don’t make it into the hands or mouths of children and pets.
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy has been studied for nearly a century, and BHRT improves upon that research. Thus, the most obvious benefit of BHRT is the fast relief it provides from the discomfort of side effects. By restoring balance to the endocrine system, hormone therapy allows the body to function at its most optimal level. In addition, since bioidentical hormones are not animal-derived or synthetic, they are generally well-tolerated. This gives it a reputation as a more “natural” treatment.
Two of the most important benefits, however, are that there seem to be fewer side effects associated with BHRT, and there is more flexibility in changing doses and making adjustments than with traditional hormone therapy. research shows there may be fewer side effects with BHRT and more flexibility in adapting and changing doses than with traditional HRT.
Getting Back in Balance
There are many risk factors for hormone imbalances, including drinking too much alcohol, smoking, having poor sleeping habits, and being overweight. Even with BHRT, reducing these risk factors will help support your body in achieving optimal results. You can take control of many of the variables affecting your hormone levels.
High stress levels flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause high blood pressure and blood sugar imbalances. It puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and impairs the immune response. Introducing holistic therapies to your BHRT treatment can help relax the body, slow the heart rate, and reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.
Physical exercise releases endorphins and dopamine, which are hormones responsible for increasing feelings of well-being. They help make anxiety, depression, and sleep problems more manageable. In addition, it goes without saying that exercise helps your body function at its best, supporting heart and lung health.
Believe it or not, even your eating habits are related to hormones. Over-eating or eating at inappropriate times can often be blamed on an imbalance of a hormone called ghrelin. This hormone is responsible for managing your appetite and signaling when you are full. Choose healthy foods and avoid inflammatory foods (like carbs and sugar) whenever you can.
Get Relief Now
Don’t wait to find out if bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is right for you. A simple blood test could change your life. Our experienced team is eager to help you get relief from the uncomfortable effects of hormone imbalance. Call our experts at MacMed Spa in Milford, MA to schedule your consultation today.