Bio Identical Hormones
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Bio-Identical hormone replacement
Bio-identical (or “natural”) hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is designed to treat symptoms of andropause (an age related gradual drop in men’s testosterone levels), menopause (the age-related permanent end to menstruation and fertility caused by drops in estrogen and progesterone) and perimenopause (the transition to menopause associated with fluctuating levels of estrogen).
Bio-identical hormones are an ideal treatment for aging-related hormone changes, because they precisely match the hormones that are created naturally by the body. In addition, a prescription for bio-identical hormones is often custom-tailored (“compounded”) and specifically designed to treat each individual’s unique needs. Traditional hormones are derived from animals or synthesized in labs and are similar, but not identical, to the body’s natural hormones.
Bio-identical hormones are available in several different forms, including pills, self-injections, creams, gels, patches, nasal sprays, drops for use under the tongue, and pellets that are placed under the skin. The form of bio-identical hormone (or combination of hormones) that is best to use depends on a person’s specific hormonal imbalances, as well as personal preference. However hormone replacement therapy in the form of HRT pellets arr thought by many experts to be the best delivery method for BHRT.
Topical creams or gels can be messy as they are applied to the skin on the shoulders, inner arms/thighs, or the stomach. The major drawback to creams or gels is the need to reapply the hormones on a precise schedule to avoid dose fluctuations. In addition, creams and gels may not penetrate the skin evenly, meaning that there is less control over how much hormone is absorbed into the blood stream.
Patches are another convenient and painless form of bio-identical hormones. Patches are placed on the skin and release the hormone in a steady dose throughout the day. The drawbacks to patches are that they must be reapplied on a consistent schedule, and they may cause skin irritation in some individuals, and can be inconvenient to use and messy.
Pill forms of bio-identical hormones are typically gelatin capsules. These capsules are usually taken with food so that they are more readily absorbed in the body. Pills are easy and convenient. However, they must be taken on a precise schedule (to avoid hormone fluctuations). In addition, some hormones are not as effective or safe if they are broken down by the liver after being ingested.
Bio-identical hormones in pellet form are inserted directly under the skin of the hip or buttock. Pellets offer a consistent way to maintain a specific dose of hormones that is not dependent on a person remembering to take a pill or rub on a cream at the same time each day. With bio-identical hormone pellets there is the need for routine doctor visits—possibly every few months, which allows for more precise monitoring throughout treatment. The actual insertion of hormone pellets, should only be performed by a specially trained hormone doctor.