Conditions Treated By Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body, coordinating complex processes including digestion, growth, energy supply, and reproduction. They can influence the function of the immune system and even alter behavior. They help to regulate appetite, mood, and libido. Unfortunately, when hormone imbalances occur, they can lead to a chain reaction of health problems.
Harlan Bieley, M.D., at Healthy Living and Longevity Medical Center, serves patients from Palm Beach to Boca Raton, and works hard to restore your hormonal balance to improve your body’s overall function and health.
Bioidentical hormones are designed to chemically and biologically match the hormones in the human body. Instead of using synthetic or animal hormones, which do not exist naturally in humans, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are exact chemical matches to the hormones naturally found in your body. Since the 1930s, bioidentical hormones have been used successfully. These hormones are used today to treat many medical conditions.
A few of the conditions that may be treated successfully with BHRT include:
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause results in the decline of ovarian function in women. This reduces the body’s reserves of progesterone and estrogen, which are both essential for many areas of mental, sexual, and physical health. Some of the common symptoms women experience during menopause include mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, depression, night sweats, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, and joint and muscle pain.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be used to supplement the body with progesterone and estrogen, helping to reduce the symptoms of menopause and reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Andropause
After men turn thirty, testosterone levels begin to decline naturally at about 1% per year. In men, this hormone imbalance often has the biggest impact on testosterone and cortisol (the stress hormone). With testosterone and cortisol levels out of proper range, men experience a range of andropause symptoms.
As testosterone declines, men often notice a reduction in libido, reduced muscle tone, night sweats, gynecomastia (male breasts), urinary problems, weight gain, mood swings, fatigue, hair loss, sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction. Men may not experience all of these symptoms, but can commonly experience several at once.
The imbalance in even one hormone can cause imbalance in other hormones. Men may feel like they have lost their virility, which often results in self-consciousness and anxiety. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may prove helpful for men dealing with androgen imbalances. By supplementing testosterone, men can regain libido and improve muscle tone, which offers many mental and quality of life benefits.
Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition. Insulin is a hormone that works to balance blood sugar in the body, attaching to cells and helping cells use sugar in the blood for important metabolic processes within the body. This can cause high blood sugar, brain fogginess, inability to focus, sleepiness (especially after meals), intestinal bloating, weight gain, increased hunger, inability to focus, and even depression. As the body produces insulin, those with IR are unable to use the insulin effectively. Cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin.
Individuals with pre-diabetes or diabetes often suffer from insulin resistance or a decline in insulin production. For many diabetics, BHRT can be used to supplement the body with insulin to manage and treat this condition.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Hormonal Headaches, and Mood Swings
Throughout the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, and as hormone levels fluctuate, women can suffer an array of symptoms. Symptoms can include headaches or migraines, joint or muscle pain, mood swings and irritability, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, constipation, a depressed mood, acne flare-ups, and fatigue.
In extreme cases, bioidentical hormonal supplements may prove helpful, reducing some of the symptoms that women deal with during hormonal fluctuations.
Adrenal fatigue is produced when your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress. The adrenal glands mobilize your body’s responses to every kind of stress (whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological) through hormones that regulate energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone, and other processes that enable you to cope with the stress. If the adrenal glands are not producing sufficient amounts of these hormones, individuals may experience multiple symptoms, such as low blood pressure, nausea, muscle pain, dizziness, weakness and fatigue. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may help to alleviate some of the symptoms that occur due to adrenal insufficiency.
The thyroid is responsible for releasing hormones that control the efficiency and speed of the body’s metabolism. Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Hypothyroidism, which is often referred to as an underactive thyroid, often causes low blood pressure, cold sensitivity, weight gain, and lethargy.
The effects of thyroid disorders can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated. Bioidentical hormones may be used to treat thyroid problems, particularly hypothyroidism, effectively. This treatment may also prove helpful in patients who have been aggressively treated for hyperthyroidism.
Bone loss (osteoporosis) increases after menopause due to lower levels of estrogen. Osteoporosis becomes more common with age. About 15% of people in their 50s and 70% of those over 80 are affected. Although it is more common in women than in men, 2% to 8% of males in the developed world are affected, and 9% to 38% of women are affected. Estrogen deficiency is the most common cause of osteoporosis. When the body has a quick decline in estrogen, bone loss is accelerated, especially in post-menopausal women. This can cause an increase in bone fractures, a stooped posture, and back pain. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be affective in slowing the progression of bone loss.
Weight Loss Resistance
For many patients who are having a difficult time losing weight, estrogen or progesterone imbalances are often the culprit. Carrying weight around your abdomen is bad for your health and is a key indicator of a hormonal imbalance. If you have struggled to lose weight and keep it off, your hormones are most likely partly responsible, and they may be sabotaging your efforts to lose weight.
Your hormones control every aspect of weight loss, including your metabolism, where you store your fat, your appetite, and even your cravings. The balancing of hormones is essential for weight loss, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be used to help balance a patient’s hormones, making it easier to achieve a healthy weight.
Sexual dysfunction can occur in both men and women, and issues with sexual function or performance often stem from a decline in hormone production that can come with aging. Low libido, vaginal dryness, and erectile dysfunction can all be symptoms of low or imbalanced hormones. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help to reduce problems with sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may also prove helpful for patients suffering from fibromyalgia and other types of chronic pain. Eliminating hormone imbalances may help to reduce fatigue, pain, and depression. Knowledge of hormonal disturbances in fibromyalgia patients simplifies the diagnostic process. Though current research cannot confirm with certainty that a hormonal imbalance could cause fibromyalgia, hormone blood tests can be used as a fibromyalgia diagnostic marker in specific situations.