Frequently Asked Questions about Bioidentical Hormones
Before beginning a Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) program, it’s natural to have a few questions about the process and what to expect. Virginia Beach Bioidentical Hormones Expert, Steven Gershon, M.D., near Suffolk, VA, has compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you decide if BHRT is the best option for you.
- What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones have a chemical structure that is identical to the hormones naturally produced by the body. We refer to them as natural because they are natural to the human body. Synthetic hormones have a structure similar to a form produced by your body, but not identical. These chemical differences mean the synthetic hormone acts differently, producing substantially different effects. Bioidentical and synthetic hormones should not be considered the same or used interchangeably. They are entirely different.
- What Forms of Bioidentical Hormones Are Available?
Currently, natural hormones are available as a patch, oral medication, injection, suppository, sub-dermal pellet or cream. A hormone replacement specialist considers any other health issues of the patient before recommending a specific approach. For example, people with high cholesterol tend to do better with the patch but worse with oral medications. Patients may switch to another method if the initial method prescribed is not tolerated well.
- What Testing Determines if BHRT is Right for Me?
- There are several different ways to test your body’s hormone levels. Your doctor may ask for a saliva or urine sample or they may ask for a blood test. The type of testing requested will depend on your presenting symptoms and overall health.
- What Symptoms Can Be Alleviated with Natural Hormone Therapy?
- Both men and women may undergo natural Hormone Therapy for low sex drive, hot flashes and night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and fatigue. For men, problems such as loss of muscle tone, erectile dysfunction, and loss of body hair may be solved with bioidentical hormones. Women experiencing sexual dysfunction, low energy levels and worsening issues with premenstrual syndrome may benefit from Natural Hormone Therapy. This is just a small sample of the dozens of symptoms that either sex may experience as a result of imbalanced or low hormone levels.
- What Age Groups Benefit Most from Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
- Women tend to experience problems with hormone imbalance when they begin perimenopause, which occurs several years before menopause. This may occur anytime between the middle 30s to the early 50s. Men’s bodies start producing less testosterone around the age of 30, but the effects are often not felt until around age 40. In either case, people who are at or near middle age usually benefit from Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy the most.
- What Is the Difference between Bioidentical and Synthetic Hormones?
- Bioidentical hormones are an exact replication of the hormones naturally produced by the body in terms of cellular and chemical structure. They are derived from plant extracts and manufactured by a compounding pharmacy to provide maximum benefit to the patient. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are altered and replaced with unnatural chemical ingredients. Medical studies conducted in Europe over the past decade indicate that bioidentical hormones are safer overall than synthetic ones.
- What Types of Bioidentical Hormones Does Steven Gershon, M.D. Offer?
- The most common types of hormones offered are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. A treatment specialist decides on the specific hormones and amount to use in replacement therapy. Treatment is based off the results of the patient’s hormone tests and self-reported complications of hormone imbalance.
- Can Bioidentical Hormones Help Alleviate Menopause Symptoms?
Yes. By the time a woman has completed menopause, her body has stopped producing estrogen altogether. Prior to menopause, the reduced production of estrogen can cause a wide range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain. By replacing estrogen, balance is restored and symptoms are greatly reduced or even eliminated.
- When will I see results?
Results will vary with each person. However, typical results occur within three to four months, where you’ll experience improvements in
- Lean Muscle Mass
- Sexual Libido
- Stronger Bones
- Skin tone and elasticity
- Overall profound sense of well-being
- Other benefits you can’t see
Medical literature reports that combining bioidentical hormone replacement with proper nutrition and exercise reduces your risks of disease.
- Will Hormone Therapy Interfere with Fertility Treatments?
- Possibly. A woman’s body requires estrogen to become pregnant, but hormone replacement therapy could introduce too much estrogen in the body for it to be fertile. It is important for women who are taking fertility treatments to disclose this to their hormone replacement specialist so they can plan for the most appropriate course of treatment.
- Are There Side Effects I Should Know About
- The most common side effects reported for men and women include aggressiveness or irritability, as well as acne, itching or tenderness at the site of the injection or patch. Women may also experience breast tenderness, spotting and cramping. These side effects tend to disappear once the body has become accustomed to receiving the hormones.
- Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe? Are There Any Risks?
- There are some risks associated with hormone therapy, but depending on your reason for wanting to take bioidentical hormones, the benefits gained can outweigh the risks. It is important to talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits involved in beginning a hormone replacement program so that you can decide for yourself if the health gains are worth the possible side effects.
Virginia Beach Bioidentical Hormones Expert, Steven Gershon, M.D., works to improve the quality of life for patients and views the interaction and conversations with them as invaluable. Dr. Gershon has seen how balancing hormones can have a wide-ranging positive effect on patients’ health and believes that in many cases their suffering is preventable.