Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
As every human being grows older, there are physical changes that take place in the body. In women, these changes can be significant and life changing. The delicate hormone balance that defines the female can sometimes be upset as a woman approaches and experiences menopause.
Until recently, there was simply nothing to do but tough it out. This lead to increased cancer incidence's, significant bone loss, increases in heart disease, hot flashes, changes in skin elasticity and uncomfortable sexual side effects.
What is HRT?
During peri-menopause and menopause, the body changes significantly. The critical levels of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones can fluctuate and drop, causing significant physiological difficulties. HRT attempts to replace levels of these key hormones as they decline, and often consists of combinations of multiple chemicals and/or natural hormones designed to counteract the negative effects of menopause. The replacement of missing or reduced hormones is important in the prevention of osteoporosis, heart disease and many types of cancers associated with menopausal changes.
Unfortunately, recent studies have discovered dangerous side effects to the use of synthetic or non-identical hormones used in replacement therapy. Indications are that these hormones need to be replaced with identical hormones and not just copies or approximations.
Who is Affected?
With more than 15 million women approaching menopause every year, the problem of diagnosing and treating hormone imbalance and loss has become an important part of general medicine. The emphasis on maintaining a better quality of life and in improving overall health has placed hormone replacement at the forefront of women's health issues. The problem, however, is not a simple one to solve. The difficulty in balancing changing metabolisms with multiple medications makes the pharmacists' role even more important than ever in providing proper treatment.
What about NHRT?
Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy, or NHRT, is a version of HRT that uses natural hormones rather than the synthetics that are often prescribed. While many of the side effects seen in synthetic-based HRT are reduced using natural hormones, there are still significant shortcomings to this approach. Unfortunately, a natural hormone is not the same as a bio-identical hormone.
For example, even though progesterone derived from some natural sources is chemically similar to its intended replacement, the human body can tell the difference. The copies just don't match the missing hormones and thus do not perform the anticipated replacement job for which they were designed. Progesterone hormones, which are natural but not identical are not completely absorbed into the body and thus do not completely counteract the negative effects of estrogen often used in replacement therapy.
What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Using an identical match to replace a missing hormone is known as Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Using identical replacements and creating a custom approach to the replacement therapy is by far the most effective and safest form of hormone replacement therapy.
This can best be accomplished through the compounding, or customized creation of the various medications used in the treatment. A compounded, Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement regimen is one that can be formulated and dispensed based on the needs of each individual patient. Not only can the dosages of the various hormones be varied, but the administration technique can be varied as well. Some patients may tolerate oral medications while others might require a transdermal or other method of dispensing the needed hormones.
Where Can I Get Help?
With all the dangers and side effects, deciding which kind of hormone therapy is right for you can be a confusing and troubling time. Many women simply don't know where to start - start with your physician. Ask your doctor if he or she prescribes Bio-Identical Hormones in replacement therapy. Read as much information as you can. Finally, find a doctor and a pharmacist who understand the complexities of hormone replacement and who can develop and implement a plan of action to solve the puzzle.
Only a trained compounding pharmacist working in conjunction with a knowledgeable physician can provide this type of complex treatment.
For more information on Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement, contact us, or speak with your physician.