By Dr. Sasha Blissett
When 51-year-old Lucinda first came to see me, she had been experiencing extreme fatigue, frequent hot flashes throughout the day and night which impacted her sleep, anxiety, lack of sex-drive, poor appetite, and weight gain for several years. She had seen other doctors who told her, “all your labs are normal,” and that her symptoms were the result of aging. Their advice to her was to start exercising, eat less along with writing her a prescription for Xanax. Lucinda decided not to take that as her only answer. After conducting the appropriate tests, I determined that Lucinda was of course entering menopause and needed her hormonal imbalances corrected.
I prescribed Lucinda a customized bio-identical hormone replacement (BHRT) formula of low dose bi-estrogen and progesterone. After a few months of therapy, she was free of her most significant symptoms. She reported being able to get a full six to seven hours of sleep with reduced hot flashes, being able to exercise, improved sex-drive, feeling less anxious and more energetic. As with most treatments her dosage was adjusted over time.
What is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bio-identical hormones are modified from wild yam or soy in the laboratory to become biologically identical to human hormones, which means that they are chemically identical to the hormones produced by the body. They are not derived directly from the plant. Conventional hormones such as Premarin and Prempro are also made in the laboratory but are not identical to human hormones; they are made from conjugated equine estrogen, which is a blend of estrogen from the urine of a pregnant horse.
What are the Benefits of BHRT?
Because there are hormone receptors on most tissues of the body, bio-identical hormones can help a range of symptoms. Some of the benefits include regulating the menstrual cycle, breast health, bone health, improving libido and even cognitive health. Some other benefits include improving muscle strength, skin elasticity, protect and supports cardiovascular health, and overall well-being.
How do I Know if My Hormones Should be Tested?
Younger women may consider hormonal testing if there are changes in menstrual cycle, painful periods, or headaches and irritability felt on monthly basis. Older women should have their hormones tested if they experience hot flashes, less sex-drive, vaginal and skin dryness, joint pain, poor concentration, irritability, low mood, weight gain, fatigue and if feeling anxious.
Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll discuss testing methods, safety, and the metabolism of bio-identical hormones.