Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Do you feel out of balance, tired and overwhelmed, or like your quality of life is being compromised by the symptoms of aging? Are you gaining weight for no reason?
If so, don’t despair! Your body and hormones are simply trying to give you a wake-up call. There is plenty you can do to feel energetic, vibrant and healthy again. In fact you have the option to delay much of the physical and mental deterioration that comes with aging with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement. BHRT is a safe, effective and reliable medical therapy that reduces the biological effects of aging.
Dr. Smith helps women and men achieve optimal health and wellness during their midlife years, which can range from their mid-30s to the mid-60s and well beyond. She also works with younger patients to optimize hormone health and solve complex syndromes, diseases and symptoms that are hormone related.
When you work with Dr. Smith in this capacity you are truly getting comprehensive integrated care; the best of both naturopathic and conventional medicine. Her comprehensive functional medicine approach to hormone optimization includes customized testing with blood work, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, nutritional and botanical supplements as indicated, and lifestyle modifications. Every treatment program is completely tailored to the individual, from the bioidentical hormones and supplementation to lifestyle recommendations, which helps ensure each individual success.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Is An Effective Way To Manage:
- Stress and depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Urinary incontinence
- Sexual health and libido
- Adrenal fatigue
- Diabetes screening and prevention
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Breast cancer prevention
What are Bioidentical Hormones and How can Bioidentical Hormones Replacement help?
Bioidentical hormones have the exact same molecular structure as hormones that are naturally produced by the body. They are made using natural ingredients and are available through standard prescriptions or through certified compounding pharmacists who must adhere to strict regulations. The types, combinations and dosages of bioidentical hormones are customized to fit each individual patient and will be discussed in the course of your treatment. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that must be prescribed; thus it is very important to receive a comprehensive individual medical risk assessment before proceeding with treatment. On-going monitoring with blood work is important to ensure that patient’s are optimized and are well within safe limits. The frequency of the monitoring is entirely depends on the case.
Some Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy:
- Restores mental functioning and memory
- Changes fat to lean muscle mass
- Promotes healthy sleep patterns
- Reduces wrinkles by increasing collagen and elastin
- Reverses thinning, sparse hair and dry skin
- Boosts immune function, improving healing capacity
- Decreases bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol
- Increases bone density and bone mass, decreasing risk of osteoporosis
- Increases the desire and endurance for exercise
- Prevents cardiovascular deterioration
Symptoms Dr. Smith Treats
Stress, diet and lifestyle all directly impact how our hormones function. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your body may be telling you that your hormones are out of balance. Now is the time to make changes, because the sooner you do, the shorter the path back to optimal health. It will improve your quality of life today and prevent serious health problems in the future.
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Loss of energy
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia
- Changes in menstrual flow
- Irregular periods
- Breast tenderness
- Cyclical migraine headaches
- Diminished sex drive
- Cravings for sweets or carbohydrates
- Difficulty with weight
- Hair loss
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Discomfort during intercourse
- Muscle and joint changes
- Bladder problems, incontinence
- Excessively dry skin, brittle nails
- Failing eyesight
- Water retention/bloating
- Low libido
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy’s Role in Prevention
Often we think of replacing hormones as way to balance things, as a way to address immediate nagging symptoms – and it does. However there is a much bigger role that having adequate levels of hormones plays, it helps us not only to age well but also it helps to prevent many of the diseases of aging such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, gynecological infections and conditions, Alzheimer’s disease dementia, memory loss, and even some cancers.
Understanding Hormones And How They Work
Hormones are proteins that behave like powerful chemical messengers. They are delivered to body tissues through the blood. Working together like a finely tuned symphony, they regulate everything from reproduction and emotions to general health and well-being.
Maintaining the proper balance of hormones in the body is essential to good health. Factors that affect hormone levels include your stage of development (puberty through menopause) as well as sleep, diet, stress, exercise, medications and the environment.
How Hormone Imbalances Affect Women
Women of all ages can suffer hormone imbalances.
- Do you have PMS, heavy or irregular periods?
- Have you suddenly gained weight and are unable to lose it?
- Do you have mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats?
- Are you feeling stressed, tired and have trouble sleeping?
Hormones affect women throughout their lifetime and an imbalance can start at any age. In younger women it is often poor nutrition, emotional stress, an erratic lifestyle, too much alcohol, the use of birth control pills, or the early onset of menopause that leads to hormonal imbalance. In mature women, perimenopause and menopause are the most common causes of hormonal symptoms.
Other contributing factors – at any age – include heredity, lack of exercise, obesity, poor quality sleep, trauma, inflammation, thyroid and adrenal problems, ovarian failure, as well as exposure to pesticides, chemicals, environmental pollution and toxins.
In some cases, the symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be greatly improved through lifestyle changes and natural therapies. In many cases, however, a personalized bioidentical hormone therapy program may be required for optimal lasting results.
How Hormone Imbalances Affect Men
- Are you having difficulty losing your “pot belly”?
- Are you moody, lacking focus and drive?
- Is your libido declining?
- Is it harder to maintain muscle mass?
Andropause, the male equivalent of menopause, can have a profound effect on a man’s health, physique, sex drive and general well-being. Starting at around 30 years of age, men lose 1% of their testosterone every year. Physically this steady loss of testosterone contributes to abdominal weight gain, declining muscle tone, reduced energy and cognitive function, as well as a waning interest in sex, and difficulty in having and maintaining an erection.
Psychologically, men who suffer from a hormonal imbalance can experience mental fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation and depression. Declining hormone levels in middle-aged men have also been linked to prostate and heart disease, elevated cholesterol, and angina.
The excellent news is that diet, exercise, stress management and natural therapies, along with a medically prescribed program of natural bio-identical hormones, can safely boost your testosterone levels and actually reverse the aging process.
What Dr. Smith Covers in an Optional 15 Minute Complimentary Consultation:
The purpose of this meeting is really to establish if your health goals match up with what Dr. Smith offers. (It is not about review lab work and does not involve any treatment).
- Dr. Smith will ask you for a brief explanation of your concerns and goals
- She will then summarize some of the ways in which she can help you reach those goals
- You may ask any questions you might have.
What Dr. Smith Covers In The First Appointment
- A complete family history
- A complete medical history
- A detailed review of chief concerns and health goals
- A physical exam if indicated
- Education about potential therapies
- Dr. Smith will order laboratory tests as necessary, depending on your specific health status and goals
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy FAQ:
How are bioidentical hormones prepared?
Bioidentical hormones require a prescription from either a medical doctor or a naturopathic doctor WITH a prescribing license (this is an additional license on top of the regular ND medical license). After a thorough consultation and laboratory testing, Dr. Smith will prescribe a unique combination of hormones to optimize your hormone levels and address your individual needs. The prescriptions are then filled by a regular pharmacy if you elect to use FDA approved versions of bioidentical hormones, or by a compounding pharmacy if Dr. Smith has to design a customized formula. Bioidentical hormones are made in a laboratory and are from plants, typically yam or soy based, to make a hormone that is structurally identical to those naturally produced in the human body.
How are hormones taken?
Depending on many factors, Dr. Smith will help you find an amenable route of administration. The choices are varied and include creams, gels, patches or suppositories.
Is BHRT safe?
Yes, a variety of research shows that bioidentical hormones have little in common with the side effects and risks of synthetic hormones. Today, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional (synthetic) hormone replacement therapy for this very reason. This is largely subsequent to the findings from the U.S. government-sponsored Women’s Health Initiative study in 2002 that had to be stopped prematurely because it clearly illustrated that traditional, synthetic hormone therapy increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke. And this was the first of many trials that corroborated this evidence. Thankfully, this is not the case for bioidentical hormones.
For bioidentical hormones, there is a large and growing body of evidence that supports the safety of bioidentical hormones and their association with lowering a patient’s baseline risks for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Other research has found that bioidentical hormones have a favorable action on blood vessels and decreasing the risk of dementia. These positive results have spurred further studies on bioidentical hormones specifically, and will hopefully fuel the trend for physicians to ONLY use these forms of hormone replacement, and learn how to help patients with immediate symptoms, but also prevent disease.
Finally, studies of both bioidentical estrogens and progesterone are showing that they are not associated with an increased risk of blood clots. Unfortunately it is taking the medical community a long time to separate the body of evidence for these very different hormone products.
How does Dr. Smith test hormone levels?
To determine your initial levels, Dr. Smith typically orders comprehensive blood tests designed to reveal the inactive and active forms of hormones in your body. This testing can be much more involved than your traditional primary care annual blood testing. After beginning the therapy, Dr. Smith will retest your hormone levels to ensure safe and optimal levels are obtained to maximize the benefits of treatment. Testing will continue at defined intervals to assure levels remain optimized and safe.
Is Dr. Smith or the lab testing covered by OHIP?
Often people have coverage for naturopathic consultations with their insurance provider, however naturopathic doctors are not covered under OHIP, and nor is any lab work ordered by an ND.
What are the long-term benefits of BHRT?
Bioidentical hormones act both in the short and long-term. Bioidentical hormone therapy helps men and women reduce the risks of many of the diseases associated with aging, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke and senility.
Does BHRT increase the risk of breast cancer?
No. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. There is approximately a 30% decrease in the risk of breast cancer for women that begin treatment with bioidentical estrogen and progesterone at menopause and remain on the treatment long-term.