Learn more about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
Ryan Summerlin May 14, 2013
Most patients I treat for hormone replacement therapy originally seek me out because they are experiencing symptoms such as a lack of energy, decreasing sex drive and a general decline in their sense of well-being. What some people may not realize are the longer term health benefits to hormone replacement therapy which can help prevent many of the diseases associated with aging, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke and senility.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is very different from hormone replacement therapies of the past, which relied largely on synthetic hormones. Unlike synthetic hormones, bioidentical hormones are derived from plants and are biologically identical to the molecular structure of hormones found in the human body. BHRT is free of the risks associated with synthetic hormones.
As Neal Rouzier points out in his book, “Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy,” “Much of what goes wrong in old age is the effect of our hormones no longer maintaining the balance that they once did. In fact, the diseases that have become associated with normal aging are largely a result of what happens when the correct balance of hormone levels is upset. By restoring the proper hormone balance, immunity is restored, and this can prevent many of the diseases associated with the aging process.”
Although there are up to a dozen hormones we utilize for supplementation, the five most common hormones I prescribe include testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, thyroid and DHEA. We rely on an extensive blood testing and thorough patient evaluation to formulate an optimal hormone replacement regimen specifically tailored to each patient. Compounding plays an important role in customizing BHRT treatments. We are fortunate in the Vail Valley to have excellent compounding pharmacies available to “custom-mix” a prescription.
Almost all men, especially older than 40, can benefit from a combination of testosterone and DHEA, often complimented with other hormones. One of my patients, a man in his 60s who underwent a prostatectomy several years ago, had been suffering from decreased libido and a dramatic drop in sexual performance. Once supplemented, his sexual function began to greatly improve within a week and his sex drive was restored in four-six weeks.
Post-menopausal women not only need testosterone, DHEA and thyroid, but also estrogen and progesterone. A post-menopausal female patient of mine in her 50s was experiencing weight gain, decreased libido, low energy and sleeplessness. With a combination of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, thyroid and melatonin, her energy and libido returned and her sleep cycle stabilized.
Perimenopausal women also benefit from BHRT. A woman in her mid-40s came to see me at her wit’s end. She was exhausted and fatigued, unable to get out of bed. We discovered she had a very low functioning level of cortisol and was also modestly hypo-thyroid. Within two weeks of hormone replacement therapy, her fog had lifted, mental clarity and focus had returned, and she was once again her energetic self.
Many patients ask me about the safety of BHRT. Contrary to a well-publicized myth, there is no link between prostate cancer and testosterone supplementation. In fact, a recent Harvard study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found no relationship between testosterone replacement and prostate cancer or heart disease risk.
Breast cancer in particular is a common discussion point with my female patients. A U.S. government-sponsored Women’s Health Initiative study conducted in 2002 showed that traditional, synthetic hormone therapy increases a women’s risk of breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke. This is not the case with bioidentical hormones. There is a body of evidence that supports the safety of natural bioidentical hormones and their association with lowering a patient’s baseline risks for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s imperative if you decide to take hormones, that you take ones that are bioidentical.
As I mentioned earlier, the primary focus and benefit of BHRT is providing the long-term therapeutic protection from the diseases associated with aging. The bonus is that you will feel better right now. I call it a win-win proposition! To learn more about BHRT, I recommend seeing a qualified hormone specialist for a formal consultation. An excellent introductory read on the subject is Dr. Rouzier’s book “How to Achieve Healthy Aging.”
Dr. Scott Brandt, of ThriveMD, has undergone extensive training by several of the leading authorities on BHRT. As the only male physician in the Vail Valley who offers regenerative and restorative medicine, Brandt welcomes both male and female patients and is available for consultation. For more information, call 970-766-8245 or visit www.thrivemdvail.com.