Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy

Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy

What is BioIdentical Hormone Therapy (bioHRT) vs. “Natural” Hormone Prescriptions?

Greetings! If you are reading this you are interested in your health, you are proactive and seeking to inform yourself and you likely have some concerns about the state of your hormones. Welcome to Functional Medicine which recognizes the importance of hormone “balance” to great health including brain function, energy, bone health, mood, stamina, feeling sexy and overall vibrant.

Many people are confused as to what the difference is between “bioidentical” hormones and “natural” hormones. It is counterintuitive but bioHRT (which is made in a laboratory) is equivalent to what your own body makes. It is made in a lab but “natural” in that your body recognizes it as “same”. What people often think of as “natural” hormones come from plant sources which are manipulated to create similar hormone-like molecules that your body can use. Animal sources which also differ from what your body naturally produces are considered “natural” for the same reasons. Does this distinction make sense?

That all said which is better:  BioIdentical or “Natural”? The answer is it depends on many factors. There are many reasons that a doctor and patient will decide together what the better treatment option is for her or him. These include personal belief systems, previous experience with the medication, individual tolerance, personal and family medical history and so on. It often makes sense to start with plant and animal sources which tend to be gentler and slower acting and if that does not help then proceed to prescription medication. That said when I meet women who are really suffering from peri/menopause with insomnia, mood swings, memory problems and generally feeling awful I may start with a prescription to stabilize her and then ramp back down to maintain on plants, foods and lifestyle changes. It is important to be flexible when approaching your hormonal needs as by nature these systems are dynamic and adaptive.

Whether or not you are a candidate for bioHRT will depend on an assessment of your risk factors. You will generally be asked to sign a consent form to treat you. For men on testosterone therapy, it is mandatory to closely tract prostate-specific antigen (PSA) quarterly for the first year to make sure that the prostate is safe. For women on estrogen therapy it will be important to surveille estrogen-sensitive tissues such as breast and uterus. These factors satisfied bioHRT can offer an increase in wellness to many people seeking improved or sustained health.

BioHRT generally refers to estrogen formulations, oral micronized progesterone (conventional medicine often uses a class of progesterone called progestin which may be undesirable in menopausal women) and testosterone. There are different dosage strategies which should be considered: oral, sublingual, topical, vaginal and injections. I am not a fan of implanted pellets but that is another option. Which dosage route to use depends on the needs of the person. For example: progesterone that is taken orally is better for sleep and anxiety than a topical cream is. So, the dosing method is as important a decision as the drug and dosage.

In addition to bioHRT prescriptions, lifestyle, nutrition, stress management, relaxation all matter to how efficacious the bioHRT prescription is. Everything works better when these factors are attended to and in fact our hormone systems are very responsive to modifications in these areas.

Hormone therapy and bioHRT in particular are controversial subjects and this is why it is important for you to be able to make an informed decision about your own health care needs. For more reading, I suggest Dr. Christiane Northrup and the Mayo Clinic.

For bioidentical hormone therapy inTri-cities – Walla Walla, Richland & Kennewick, you can visit Walla Walla Naturopathic clinic.

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