Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is the replacement of hormones that diminish with the body’s natural aging process with hormones that will restore a physiological equilibrium. When the therapy is administered properly using natural hormones by a fully qualified HRT physician, it can greatly improve the patient’s quality of life because it balances the body’s hormone needs. As with most hormone replacement therapy, BHRT has been immersed in ongoing controversies for decades.
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002 conducted a multi-center study of over 16,000 menopausal women. This study and research was halted upon the discovery of a significantly increased risk of invasive breast cancer and coronary heart disease, and these discoveries by far outweighed any benefits a patient received from HRT. Naturally, a media and public frenzy resulted in panicked women and a multitude of concerns and questions about being on the hormones. The media, however, failed to inform the public that the WHI studies used oral, synthetic hormones not Bio-identical hormones which some refer to as natural hormones. These natural hormones called bio-identical hormones offer women and men an alternative to help improve their quality of life, maintain their minds, body, and bones without the need of potentially harmful drugs that are often prescribed that in many cases don’t prevent or treat the disease they were intended to.
At Rejuve, our goal is to help inform women about their options so that they can make the choice that’s best for them. A woman’s hormonal balance is ideally in a dynamic equilibrium that shifts from day to day, week to week, and through the years. When you give your body the support it needs, it can effectively reset itself, because it’s equipped and programmed for balance and wellness. So we recommend beginning with the gentlest form of support possible to allay your discomfort and tweaking it as you go. We’ll support you in any way we can, each step of the way. The good news is that women can feel incredibly healthy right through menopause.
What are bio-identical hormones?
Bio-identical hormones, sometimes known as natural hormones, are designed to mimic the body’s naturally produced hormone chemicals. “Bio-identical” simply means that the chemical structure of the replacement hormone is as close to identical to the body’s natural hormones as possible. This being said, the Bio-identical hormone is metabolically processed in a similar way as the body’s natural hormones. BHRT allows for a higher bioavailability, which allows for them to be more effective and efficient, as well as there are less side effects as the traditional HRT. The standard traditional method of hormone replacement uses the original hormone but they get altered in the lab to create a slightly different molecule because this allows for the drug companies to patent these new invented molecules thereby increasing and maximizing their profit margins. Once given to the body they have more potential to have unwanted binding to other sites giving unwanted side effects and their elimination from the body becomes more difficult causing side effects such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol and increased clotting issues and strokes.
BHRT is a safe and very effective therapy that endocrinologists and anti-aging physicians have prescribed to their patients for many, many decades. Just a few of the benefits of BHRT include, but are not limited to fewer side effects than with synthetic hormones; improved sugar and cholesterol levels; weight loss, increase muscle tone, lower body fat; increased bone density;reduced hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness; better sleep, mood, and concentration; and increased libido. This therapy is used to aid in the treatment of menopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal symptoms. Relief for all symptoms is provided by BHRT. Mood, feeling of well-being and your overall satisfaction with yourself and your life are all improved with this treatment.
BHRT hormones are typically created via a unique “cocktail” of hormones specific to the individual patient’s body and needs based on hormone deficiencies discovered via the analysis of the patient’s blood samples. These hormones are often labeled as “custom-compounded” hormone products. Again, a major benefit to this type of treatment is that our physicians use hormone deficiencies found within your own body to personalize your specific hormone replacement therapy.
Why can’t my own doctor prescribe BHRT?
Even though BHRT’s have been around for decades, most physicians are not very familiar with them or their benefits. Doctors in general have not been educated on the differences between BHRT/natural hormones vs regular synthetic hormones so most doctors still have a negative opinion on the value of hormones. Doctors are still practicing a disease model approach which is to treat a patient when they have a diagnosable disease with a medication that improves their symptom of the disease, but it however does not cure the disease.
In the BHRT model, we use the natural hormones in physiological doses when the body needs it only to help prevent the disease from ever occurring. Two different models. Two different approaches. The latter approach we believe is the right approach – an approach only taught unfortunately after residency in programs and fellowships taught in functional or integrative branches of medicine.
Will my Endocrinologist near me be helpful in quest for BHRT or for better health?
Your typical local endocrinologists are usually well trained to treat diseases of the endocrine system like Addison’s, Grave’s disease, Klinefelter syndrome, etc. These are actual diseases. However, the traditional Endocrinologists are not well trained on how to prevent disease using natural hormone therapy unless they go to specific integrative or functional training.
How is Dr. Tang’s approach different from other standard medical approaches when it comes to Menopause?
Currently, there are several branded BHRs available for use in the kind of hormone replacement therapy typical of synthetic hormones, which are typically all one-dose-fits-all regime. In our practice, however, we find that we are most successful while administering a much more individualized therapy. We begin the process with lab tests of hormone levels, also known as a “hormone panel.” The hormone lab testing near me can be done with blood, saliva, or urine tests with labs near you or hormone panels from companies that specialize in hormones. When needed, we then prescribe a precise, individualized dosage of bio-identical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and/or DHEA, thyroid, growth hormone. We then monitor the patient carefully via regular hormone panels to ensure she gets symptom relief at optimal dosage level. In the initial stages of the therapy, we may perform a hormone panel test every three to six months. Once hormone balance is restored, a panel is needed only once a year at the time of the patient’s annual exam. In addition, Dr. Tang looks at the “whole” person which means that in addition to the hormones he will assess other important factors that affect your health and well being including other hormones, adrenal issues, inflammation, nutritional diseases, and blood sugar dysregulation. He will optimize sleep, gut health, and stress management to help optimize your health.
Do you always need BHRT for menopause symptoms?
BHRT can provide answers to many questions, but it is not necessarily the first place to begin when hormonal imbalances occur. In our vast experience, a majority of women can rebalance hormone levels without drug use or HRT. A large percentage of women can find relief through a much more natural approach combining medical-grade nutritional supplements, adrenal support, and dietary and lifestyle modifications. It is a fact of life that as women age they will need some form of hormonal balance aid, which often does include estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, thyroid, and growth hormone.
Are bioidentical hormones safer than synthetic hormones?
To date, there are numerous case studies and massive amounts of research proving that synthetic hormones do have the potential of causing long-term side effects. BHRT has yet to be well-studied and vigorously researched. Additional studies are forthcoming. Dr. Tang always takes the cautious approach by recommending his patients never think of any drug or therapy as 100% safe. A common sense approach is recommended: ongoing evaluation and blood test monitoring to decrease any possible risks until more studies are performed to confirm BHRT as compared to synthetic treatments.
Are bioidentical hormones right for me?
If you are looking to get bioidentical hormones, we are happy to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tang to see if you could benefit from natural hormones. He can do a 30 minute, complimentary, one on one consultation to go over your individual questions about hormones and how it may benefit you or not in more detail. We are located in the San Jose Bay Area CA serving the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Palo Alto but also the local communities of Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy. If you live outside this area, we also can do telehealth appointments as well. Please contact us at 408-740-5320.