Frequently Asked Questions about Bioidentical Hormones
Before beginning a Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) program, it’s natural to have a few questions about the process and what to expect. Mark O’Neal Speight, M.D. at The Center For Wellness in Charlotte has compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you decide if BHRT is the best option for you.
What Forms of Bioidentical Hormones Are Available?
Currently, natural hormones are available as a patch, oral medication, injection, suppository, sub-dermal pellet or cream. A hormone replacement specialist considers any other health issues of the patient before recommending a specific approach. For example, people with high cholesterol tend to do better with the patch but worse with oral medications. Patients may switch to another method if the initial method prescribed is not tolerated well.
What Testing Determines if BHRT is Right for Me?
There are several different ways to test your body’s hormone levels. Your doctor may ask for a saliva or urine sample or they may ask for a blood test. The type of testing requested will depend on your presenting symptoms and overall health.
What Symptoms Can Be Alleviated with BHRT?
Both men and women may undergo BHRT for low sex drive, hot flashes and night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and fatigue. For men, problems such as loss of muscle tone, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and loss of body hair may be solved with bioidentical hormones. Women experiencing sexual dysfunction, low energy levels and worsening issues with premenstrual syndrome may benefit from BHRT. This is just a small sample of the dozens of symptoms that either sex may experience as a result of imbalanced or low hormone levels.
What Age Groups Benefit Most from BHRT?
Women tend to experience problems with hormone imbalance when they begin perimenopause, which occurs several years before menopause. This may occur anytime between the middle 30s to the early 50s. Men’s bodies start producing less testosterone around the age of 30, but the effects are often not felt until around age 40. In either case, people who are at or near middle age usually benefit from Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy the most.
What Is the Difference between BHRT and Synthetic Hormone Options?
Bioidentical hormones are an exact replication of the hormones naturally produced by the body in terms of cellular and chemical structure. They are derived from plant extracts and manufactured by a compounding pharmacy to provide maximum benefit to the patient. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are altered and replaced with unnatural chemical ingredients. Medical studies conducted in Europe over the past decade indicate that bioidentical hormones are safer overall than synthetic ones.
What Types of Bioidentical Hormones Does Mark O’Neal Speight, M.D. at The Center For Wellness Offer?
The most common types of hormones offered are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. A treatment specialist decides on the specific hormones and amount to use in replacement therapy. Treatment is based off the results of the patient’s hormone tests and self-reported complications of hormone imbalance.
Can BHRT Help Alleviate Menopause Symptoms?
Yes. By the time a woman has completed menopause, her body has stopped producing estrogen altogether. Prior to menopause, the reduced production of estrogen can cause a wide range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain. By replacing estrogen, balance is restored and symptoms are greatly reduced or even eliminated.
Will BHRT Interfere with Fertility Treatments?
Possibly. A woman’s body requires estrogen to become pregnant, but hormone replacement therapy could introduce too much estrogen in the body for it to be fertile. It is important for women who are taking fertility treatments to disclose this to their hormone replacement specialist so they can plan for the most appropriate course of treatment.
Are There Side Effects I Should Know About?
The most common side effects reported for men and women include aggressiveness or irritability, as well as acne, itching or tenderness at the site of the injection or patch. Women may also experience breast tenderness, spotting and cramping. These side effects tend to disappear once the body has become accustomed to receiving the hormones.
What Type of Doctor Specializes in BHRT?
Doctors who specialize in BHRT usually work in the complementary medicine field. They have years of experience and training on the effects of hormone imbalances on the human body. Traditional doctors tend to prescribe synthetic hormones over bioidentical hormones as these are heavily marketed by the pharmaceutical industry and are more profitable for doctors.
How Much Does BHRT Cost?
Costs will vary according to the length and type of your treatment plan. To more accurately assess your cost, call to schedule a consultation with your doctor.
Will My Insurance Cover BHRT?
Because costs and insurance coverages will vary by treatment options and insurance policies, you should consult with your insurance provider and doctor to determine whether your treatment will be covered by your insurance.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe? Are There Any Risks?
There are some risks associated with hormone therapy, but depending on your reason for wanting to take bioidentical hormones, the benefits gained can outweigh the risks. It is important to talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits involved in beginning a hormone replacement program so that you can decide for yourself if the health gains are worth the possible side effects.
As a Charlotte bioidentical hormone doctor, Mark O’Neal Speight, M.D. at The Center For Wellness, works to improve the quality of life for patients and views the interaction and conversations with them as invaluable. Dr. Speight has seen how balancing hormones can have a wide-ranging positive effect on patients’ health and believes that in many cases their suffering is preventable.