Are you debilitated at a certain time of the month? Do you eat less and less but keep gaining weight? Does it seem like menopause is arriving ahead of schedule? These are all signs of hormonal imbalance, a growing problem that many patients are facing earlier in their lives than ever before.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), DDT and other pesticides, and plastic products with plasticizers such as bisphenol A (PBA). These Endocrine Disruptors may be found in many everyday products -– including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, furniture, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. These triggers may disrupt the natural hormonal changes during a woman’s life and cause severe symptoms.
The problem isn’t in your head
“It’s stress.” “You must be depressed.” “You’re getting older.” When women seek help, that’s what many patients hear as their physician scribbles a prescription for anti-depressants or sleeping pills. This may temporally treat the symptom but not the source of the problem. These drugs mask how a woman really feels. Yet the very real, physical causes of the problem are many times ignored.
Hormonal imbalances can many times be corrected with the right type of diagnosis and treatment with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT.
What are bio-identical hormones?
The word “bio-identical” means that a substance used to treat the hormonal imbalance is biologically identical and have the same identical molecular structure to one made by your body so that the body recognizes it as “self.” For example, the molecules that make up bio-identical hormones like estrogen, testosterone and progesterone are shaped exactly like your own natural hormones. In contrast, the estrogens and progestins in birth control pills are similar to, but not exactly like your own natural estrogen and progesterone hormones.
“Bio-Similar” or “Synthetic: hormones have some of your natural hormone properties but not all, and many times behave quite differently. That is why it is important to distinguish between the synthetic patented progestin and the natural progesterone.
Consider the different effects: Your own natural progesterone is essential to conceiving and promoting the gestation of your pregnancy, while the synthetic progestin in birth control pills are designed to prevent pregnancy. Not surprisingly, the synthetic progestin disrupts the way your own hormones function.
Estrogen can also be called “natural” but not necessarily “bio-identical”. For many years the largest marketed estrogen was Premarin which was derived from “Pregnant Mare’s urine”. Although Premarin did contain estrone, estradiol, and estriol and had some properties of human estrogens, there were 40 other equiline or horse hormone components that are foreign to humans. However, bio-identical estrogen is exactly the same as your own estrogen. It relieves symptoms while reducing health risks.
Symptoms relieved by BHRT
Used correctly, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy restores balance and relieves symptoms such as these:
Women using BHRT also seem to have fewer wrinkles and other visible signs of aging skin.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Dangerous?
That depends on the type of hormones. One of the largest studies ever performed, the Women’s Health Initiative, found that synthetic estrogen and progesterone increased the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, blood clots, and stroke. However, other research shows that a combination of bio-identical estrogen and progesterone does not increase these risks and one bio-identical type of estrogen, estriol, actually may protect against breast cancer.
What hormones Do I Need?
Although estrogen and progesterone are commonly viewed as the key female hormones, there are others that also directly affect a woman’s health and well-being. These include testosterone and DHEA (a precursor to other hormones). Thyroid hormone disorders are also very common.
Each woman’s situation is unique. Individual needs must be determined by physical diagnosis, testing, evaluating symptoms, and prescribing the correct hormone and dosage to achieve balance.
Why do many doctors not offer Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Most doctors are trained to treat diseases but not quality of life issues. Sadly, that’s how our health care system is designed. Hormonal imbalances are not diseases in the traditional medical sense and many times defy conventional diagnoses even though women’s lives may be adversely affected.
Since Medical Schools and medical training is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, most physicians are not trained in natural medication options that aren’t able to be patented. After starting practice, physicians continue to be heavily influenced by pharmaceutical representatives who keep physicians abreast of new products coming to market. Stepping out of their comfort zone to learn about other options for therapy takes time and effort which are both rare commodities in the lives of today’s busy physicians.
And, there’s a financial reason why most physicians are unaware of the value of bio-identical hormones. Natural hormones are not allowed to be patented by the FDA. Synthetic hormones are patented drugs that are highly profitable for the pharmaceutical drug companies. Like other pharmaceutical drugs, they are aggressively marketed to doctors whereas bio-identical hormones are not because they cannot be patented.
Every woman has unique and individualized needs. We understand that your symptoms are manifestations of very real hormone imbalances, and we work with you to identify the imbalance and correct it.