There are some developments in the medical world that serve to help great numbers of people. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one such and being able to undergo this simple and popular treatment has helped many women – and also men – live more enjoyable lives as they grow older.
In recent years we have seen the advent of bioidentical hormones for use in HRT procedures. This article looks at whether patients in West Palm Beach should be considering this form of HRT, how and if it works, and what the reasons are behind bioidentical hormones. Let’s move forward with a look at this medical marvel.
What are bioidentical hormones?
The use of bioidentical hormones in HRT is becoming more popular as simple techniques evolve. Before we talk about those, it’s helpful to know what hormones are and how they are important to our everyday well-being.
Hormones are chemicals that are created and secreted by many glands throughout the body. The two best known are estrogen – which is the dominant female hormone – and the equivalent in men which is testosterone. These two hormones, along with many others, play a vital part in our development, especially in the areas of sex and reproduction organs, in bone density and muscle growth, and also in cognitive function and some other areas of the body.
Where bioidentical hormones have a part to play is in the HRT procedure. We’ll look in a moment at why both men and women may need HRT. In brief, then, a bioidentical hormone is one that is developed in a laboratory. It is as identical as possible to the actual hormones produced by the body. This makes these the most effective and efficient replacement hormones.
Until recently the doctor would have needed to rely upon entirely synthetic hormones that were not based on biological examples. While these can be effective, the bioidentical versions are the preferred type for most HRT clinics. So, who is a candidate for HRT treatment, and why is it different for men and women?
Why might women need HRT?
HRT for women is a commonly prescribed procedure. Women at a certain age experience menopause. This is time when her reproductive organs stop working. Usually, this will be in their 40’s, but it can be earlier or later.
During younger life, the ovaries produce eggs every month – the woman’s period – and with this comes a hormonal support that keeps her balanced. When the menopause arrives, these hormones – especially estrogen – are vastly reduced in production, leading to surprisingly notable hormonal changes in her mood and general demeanour. For example, symptoms of the menopause can include all of the following (and this is not a comprehensive list):
- Hot Flushes
- Night sweats
- Dryness and thinning of the skin and particularly the vaginal area
- Diminished sex drive and loss of sensitivity to stimulation
- Hair loss
- Forgetfulness that may include an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Depression and other mood changes
As we can see from that list there are potentially many distressing and unpleasant factors to deal with. Fortunately, HRT with bioidentical hormones can help, and we’ll look at how in a moment. Next, we need to outline the difference when it comes to men and HRT.
When would men need HRT?
HRT for men is also prescribed, but perhaps not so readily as for women. When a man ages he does experience a natural slowing down in the production of testosterone in the body. This can lead to a number of problems, such as those on this list:
- Low energy levels
- Depression or feeling very low
- Lack of motivation
- Poor self-confidence
- Difficulty concentrating on anything
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Putting on weight
- Reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
- Gynecomastia, or development of breasts
- Decreased bone density
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced libido
It’s easy to see why a man who suddenly finds he is no longer able to perform or hold an erection can become upset and loss self-esteem. It can also be a big strain on a relationship. This condition – or collection of conditions – carries the name ‘andropause’ or the male menopause.
If a man or woman believes they are experiencing the andropause or menopause they must seek medical diagnosis. This is vital as while many of the symptoms are merely embarrassing or frustrating, some can be indicative more dangerous medical conditions. Also, a diagnosis will enable the patient to be referred to an HRT clinic where they will undergo treatment that will hopefully be successful and return to living a life as close as possible to that they were.
Next, we want to have a brief look at safety and bioidentical hormones before we close with a quick look at the methods of administering such.
Are bioidentical hormones safe?
Research into bioidentical hormones has been ongoing for many years and is still so. As they are laboratory created using an individual’s actual hormones to become a near identical replacement, they are the safest method of administering HRT. Which procedure is used is down to the consultant who will assess the patient for the best method. Possible side-effects are few and may include bruising or soreness if the pellet method is the chosen one. Let’s finish with a look at what to expect if you are to undergo HRT.
How are bioidentical hormones administered?
Bioidentical hormones for HRT can be administered in a number of ways. These include the following:
- As orally ingested pills that must be taken daily.
- As a skin cream that is rubbed on the skin and the hormone seeps into the body.
- As a regular injection of hormones into the body.
- As pellets which are inserted under the skin via a small incision, and which let the hormone slowly seep into the bloodstream.
If you have suffered any of the symptoms above and believe that HRT may be the answer talk to your doctor and they will refer you to a consultant.
David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.