Q: Why do people typically come in to see you for bioidentical hormones?
Dr. Kate: The most common symptoms are fatigue, lack of mental clarity, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, weight increases, mood fluctuations and low libido. Aside from symptom relief, BiHRT has been shown to be effective management for osteoporosis, prevention of dementia and overall decreased risk of stroke and heart attack.
A lot of patients are generally in good health, they take care of themselves, eat well and are used to feeling well. Then, as they reach their mid-40’s, they notice the symptoms mentioned above and all of the sudden they cannot easily find relief with simple dietary and exercise adjustments.
Q: What hormones are evaluated when someone comes in for a visit?
Dr. Kate: Sex Hormones (Progesterone, Estrogens, DHEA, Testosterone), Insulin, Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormones
Q: You recommend bioidentical hormones for men and women vs. synthetic hormones. What is the difference?
Dr. Kate: As the name implies, the bioidentical hormones are identical in chemical structure to what the ovaries make in women and the testicles make in men. The conventional, synthetic hormones are a totally different chemical structure and are not naturally found in the body.
Q: A lot of people have heard negative things about hormone replacement from medical providers and the media. What is your answer when people ask you about the safety of bioidentical hormones?
Dr. Kate: The studies that were released in the early 2000’s that have sparked fear in patients and the medical community were done with synthetic hormones, not bioidentical. These hormones do have negative side effects in the areas of cardiovascular risk factors, stroke and cancer. More importantly, the women in the studies were not controlled for age, genetics or previous health history. It was not taken into account that many of them may have had health issues and genetic predisposition to cardiovascular risk. They were also older than is ideal to start bioidentical hormones for the first time. These factors came together to paint an unfair picture of hormone replacement.
Recent studies in the last 4-6 years, in peer-reviewed, American medical journals, show that there is a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke in women who are given bioidentical hormone replacement within 10 years of menopause. The chances of cancer, osteoporosis, and dementia are reduced.
The same applies to men with bioidentical testosterone replacement. When men are given hormone replacement, particularly testosterone, the result is an across the board decline in causes of death in all categories – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Recent studies show that there is no increased risk of heart disease with testosterone. For men, the hormones will increase mood, libido, decrease body fat, increase strength and endurance, improve mental clarity, and improve in bone density.
Q: How are these hormones made?
Q: How long do I have to stay on them?
Q: How often do I have to come for a visit?
Q: What can I expect from bioidentical hormones?
(Continue Reading for the answers to these questions.)