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What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy means the chemical make-ups of the replacement hormones are exactly the same as what your body produces naturally. The hormones used are processed from wild yam and soybean plants and while they are not “human” in origin, they are identical in structure and function to human hormones. When describing natural hormones, the word “natural” refers to the structure of the hormone, not the source. Another name for BHRT is Natural Hormone Replacement (NHRT) - the terms are used interchangeably.
What are the goals of HRT?
· Re-establish a hormonal balance that mimics your own body’s natural hormone balance.
· Alleviate symptoms caused by the age-related natural decline in production of body hormones –by using the lowest dose needed to control symptoms without producing side effects caused by excess hormones.
· Provide all the protective benefits which were originally provided by naturally occurring hormones in your body –while avoiding undesirable effects.
No two women are alike. The value of natural hormone replacement is that it can be tailored to your individual body and hormone levels. With the help of your prescriber, you can start and maintain a replacement regimen that closely mimics your own body and allows for changes as you grow older.
What are the natural hormones used in BHRT?
The three primary hormones used are Estrogens (estrone, estradiol, estriol), Progesterone and Testosterone. They are all derived from plants (wild yam and soy) and then converted in a laboratory to the identical hormones produced by a woman's body.
What is Estrogen and what does it do in the body?
Estrogen is not a single hormone but a “family” of hormones. Our products are formulated using various combinations of this family of estrogen substances depending on your needs. The family members are: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).
Estrone (E1) is the estrogen most commonly found in increased amounts in post-menopausal women. It performs functions similar to estradiol but is much less potent. In pre-menopausal women estrone levels are generally similar to estradiol levels. In menopausal women estrone levels are usually higher.
Estradiol (E2) is the most potent of the three estrogens, and is most responsible for improvement of hot flashes, increasing mental acuity, and improving memory. Estradiol is frequently combined with estriol (E3), which is said to help regulate estradiol in the body.
Estriol (E3), is the least potent of the three substances. In European countries, doctors have been using estriol as a hormone replacement drug for over fifty years.
What is Progesterone? Some women say this is the only product they use. Is this true?
Progesterone is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women (men also produce progesterone). Progesterone is often called the “feel good hormone” because of its important role in brain function, mood enhancement, and anti-depressant activity. Optimum levels of progesterone can lead to feelings of calm and well-being, while low levels can result in feelings of anxiety, irritability, and even anger. Progesterone plays a role in maintaining the central nervous system, the sense of touch, and motor function. Progesterone is instrumental in maintaining bone density and bone strength. One of progesterone’s major functions is helping keep “unopposed” estrogen in check, which is why you see it almost always prescribed whenever estrogen is given. Natural progesterone also makes the body’s estrogen receptors more sensitive to estrogen.
Why might I need testosterone? Isn’t testosterone a hormone for men?
Often called the “hormone of desire”, testosterone is produced by female ovaries and plays a role in maintaining sexual desire, energy level, sense of well-being, as well as the strength and integrity of skin, muscle, and bone. Testosterone was discovered more than sixty years ago, but only recently have we begun to understand its role in women. Women produce about 1/10th as much testosterone as men. There is a gradual drop in testosterone production in women beginning at age 30. Stress may also play a roll in decreased levels. A saliva test can help determine if testosterone supplementation is right for you. There are several convenient ways to administer low-dose testosterone. Huntsville Compounding Pharmacy compounds a individually-dosed testosterone cream that can be applied to the external vaginal mucosa. We can also put a daily dose of testosterone in our topical estrogen/progesterone cream formulations.
A final word about Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement
The approach to BHRT is highly individualized. Two women can have identical saliva or blood hormone levels, yet their replacement needs can be very different based upon their symptoms. What works for you may not work for your best friend or even your twin sister!
Our Pharmacists are available to consult with you for a minimal fee. Please call today to schedule your appointment. We do ask that prior to your consultation that you have your lab test (whether saliva or blood) and you fill out our hormone consultation packet. You can receive a packet from the pharmacy or will be glad to fax or e-mail one to you. Please call today!
If you would like to get started using BHRT, please download and complete our BHRT Questionnaire and call us today for a consultation with Jim or Phillip. (When asked to enter login and password, just hit cancel).
To contact us:
Huntsville Compounding Pharmacy