Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Orange County California Bioidentical Hormone Doctor, Sean Breen offers customized Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy programs to men and women. When considering Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy there are two concepts that you need to understand. The ﬁrst is that we once thought our hormones decline because we age. To the contrary, we now understand that we age because our hormone levels decline. The second concept is differentiating what is normal versus what is optimal, and 99% of doctors in the United States are treating patients based on what their lab values are for their age. What they are failing to understand is that normal for age is not optimal.
For example, a woman that is 65 years old may have an estrogen level of zero, which is in the normal range for her age. However, this is obviously not normal, and she is losing all the beneﬁts of having optimal estrogen levels. A 60 year-old man may have a free testosterone level of 8, which is normal for his age, but it is not at 30-40, which is what he had when he was in his 20′s. We can now test hormone levels and replenish them using Bioidentical Hormones to the 20-30 year old level indeﬁnitely. This paradigm shift is literally giving patients their health and vitality back.
A decline in hormone production is a natural part of aging in both men and women. Although it typically starts in the 30’s, most people don’t feel the full effects of declining hormones until they are closer to middle age. For men, the first indication is often problems with sexual performance and feeling like they have no ambition. Women, who are typically more in-tune with their bodies due to the monthly menstrual cycle, may complain of mood swings, weight gain, and a lowered sex drive.
Typical symptoms of hormone imbalance in both men and women:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Anxiety, depression, and irritability
- Low libido
- Memory lapses and trouble concentrating
- Weight gain
- Insomnia and sleep apnea
- Lack of muscle tone
Regardless of your age, gender, or specific symptoms, you can find relief with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
Traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy
Because hormones affect so many functions of the human body, it may take you a while to realize that many of the uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing are related. For example, you may receive individual prescriptions for frequent headaches or insomnia only to continue to struggle in other areas. This is because most traditional doctors treat symptoms without exploring the root cause. You become increasingly frustrated and discouraged as your doctor keeps missing the connection between your symptoms and hormone imbalance.
Some doctors may suggest synthetic hormone replacement therapy after other treatments fail to bring relief. Unfortunately, this may make your problems worse. Synthetic hormones are associated with several serious health conditions, including endometrial cancers, blood clots, heart attack, abnormal liver function, and pancreatitis. Additionally, they generally take longer for the body to accept and process. While the above complications are uncommon, many people do experience common side effects like nausea and muscle cramping. These can be bothersome enough for them to stop taking the synthetic hormones or prescription pills their doctors have given them.
How Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is Different
The first major difference between Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy and synthetic hormones is that Bioidentical Hormones are created from natural plant based extracts. The natural hormones in these plants remain unchanged during the compounding process because they are nearly identical to the natural hormonal structure that exists in the human body. For most people on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, the similar cellular structure means that the compound is metabolized in the body faster and easier. With their hormones in balance, men and women in the 30’s, 40’s, and beyond are able to enjoy renewed energy, better health, and a more positive outlook on life.
Due to the natural interactions of Bioidentical Hormones and the body, patients are able to experience prolonged symptom relief without the risk of further complications or any undesirable side effects.
Treating Specific Health Conditions with Bioidentical Hormones
In addition to the relief of general symptoms associated with hormone decline, many holistic medical practitioners prescribe Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy to treat a variety of conditions that are ultimately related to a hormone imbalance, dominance or deficiency. These include:
- Adrenal fatigue: When your adrenal glands are working properly, they allow you to effectively manage the various stressors in your life and help build your immunity to common illnesses. However, high levels of stress, a poor diet, and other lifestyle factors can cause an imbalance that leads to chronically feeling fatigued. Optimized hormones allow the adrenal glands to function and peak efficiency and have been shown to reduce and even reverse the effects of adrenal fatigue in both men and women.
- Fibromyalgia: This condition, which happens when the brain receives faulty nerve signals, causes insomnia, fatigue, muscle pain, problems with concentration, irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased immunity to other illnesses. While the causes and specifics of fibromyalgia are still the subject of much speculation and study in the medical community, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Experts agree that optimizing hormones with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy can greatly reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Thyroid disorders: The thyroid is located in your neck and controls every cell in your body. People experience many problems when it is underactive or overactive, including unplanned weight gain or loss, digestion issues, consistently feeling too hot or too cold, heart and liver function issues, high cholesterol, and decreased blood flow that can lead to anemia. Bioidentical Hormone Replacment Therapy has been found exceptionally effective at helping the body find and maintain proper thyroid hormone balance.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is also helpful for women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms and men who are dealing with conditions relating to low testosterone. If you know there is more to life than feeling tired, overweight, and moody, you owe it to yourself to find out more about Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
1. Why has my primary care doctor not discussed optimizing hormones with me?
This is a great question and the answer is simple. In medical school and residency training, doctors (myself included) were taught to treat hormone deficiencies only. That is if the levels fall outside the normal range for age. For example, if your thyroid is normal we tell you your thyroid is fine despite the fact that you are telling us you are fatigued, depressed and are gaining weight like crazy. We simply treat the number and not the patient. I will use myself as a perfect example. At the age of 38 I began experiencing fatigue, had some weight gain and lower than normal energy levels (for me!). I checked my thyroid function and found that I my T3, T4 and TSH were all smack dead in the middle of normal. However, they were not optimal and I was symptomatic. If I went to 99 doctors in my area as a patient they would tell me that these lab values are normal and it must be from something else. I however, have been trained differently and started 1 grain of compounded dessicated thyroid and within one month felt amazing. My energy levels improved, I lost 5 pounds and had significantly less fatigue.
2. What are bio-identical hormones and why does my primary doctor not use them?
Bio-identical hormones means that we use hormones that are the EXACT chemical structure as the hormones your body produced you entire life. For you to understand the significance of this I need to give you a little background information which may upset you.Pharmaceutical companies can not patent and make significant profits on hormones that your body makes naturally. In order to make money they have to change it’s chemical structure and call it a drug. This drug, although very similar to your bodies natural hormone, if not in fact the hormone your body produces. Physicians are trained using studies funded by drug companies. Since drug companies were studying their drugs and not the natural hormone, this is what physicians were taught.Unfortunately, we came to realize in 2002 (way before actually) is that drugs (“hormones”) cause side effects and do not act the same in the human body as natural hormones. For example, 56,000 women in the Womens Health Initiative were being treated with drugs (“hormones”) to combat the effects of menopause. One of the drugs they were given was medroxyprogesterone acetate (provera) and women were told it was progesterone (which is the natural hormone you make). What they found was Provera (the drug) increased a womens risk of cancer, caused heart attacks, strokes and blood clots and had none of the beneficial effects of natural progesterone. As a result, women and doctors were told that hormones were dangerous. This is not true. Drugs are dangerous. Natural hormones (bio-identical) that your body makes are not. There is not one study that shows that giving progesterone to a women causes even one harmful effect. To the contrary, there are many beneficial effects of using progesterone which is why we use it.So in a nutshell. Drug companies make drugs because they can’t make money giving a natural hormone. Drug companies do research that doctors read. Drugs cause side effects. Doctors are afraid to prescribe them.
3. What is a compounding pharmacy and why can I not get my hormones from the local CVS or drug store?
Regular pharmacies carry drugs that are FDA approved and in specific doses. If you read the question above on bio-identical hormones you will understand that standard drug companies do not make bio-identical hormones because they can not patent them and there is no profit in it for them. Therefore, in order to get a bio-identical hormone, we have to use these compounding pharmacies that specialize in making these hormones. Secondly, FDA approved drugs typically come in standard doses (50mg, 75mg 100mg etc). However, no two patients are the same and many will require unique doses to achieve the levels which relieve their symptoms. By using a compounding pharmacy I can make a dose of testosterone 95mg for one patient and 115mg for another patient. This gives us the unique ability to optimize your hormones levels safely and effectively. You get the perfect dose for you versus a one size fits all dose from CVS.
4. Why doesn’t insurance cover these hormones?
Insurance companies cover treatment plans that are FDA approved and that come from pharmaceutical companies. What we have found is that by giving patients a 3 month supply at a time, that the cost is similar to what they would pay in co-pays for a one month supply which is what insurance companies typically authorize.
There are some hormones that are made by drug companies for commercial use that may be covered by insurance. A good example is androgel which is a testosterone gel used in men. The problem with androgel is that is only comes in a 10mg/gram dose. When we compound testosterone for men we typically use a 100mg/dose because that is what gets their levels to optimal levels. You would have to use ridiculous quantities of androgel to get the same effect as a much smaller amount of compounded testosterone. This excess ends up costing the patient much more money in the end.
To learn more about obtaining a Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy program, contact Orange County California Bioidentical Hormone Doctor, Sean Breen, D.O. to schedule a consultation!