As a young, married mother, I found myself feeling terrible. I was constantly irritable, unable to sleep, and struggling with weight gain, among other issues. I tried to treat myself with the same methods I would use for patients, but simply taking pills for sleep, mood, and other symptoms did not work.
It was then that I discovered bio-identical hormones, and underwent saliva tests to determine what hormones I was low in. I discovered that I had a progesterone deficiency, and once I started treatment with bio-identical progesterone, it was like a night and day difference! I was able to stop taking other medications, as I realized that what I really needed was to balance my hormones.
In addition to hormone replacement therapy, I also made significant changes to my diet, which helped me lose the excess weight I had been struggling with. My experience with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has been life-changing, and it is my hope that by sharing my story, others can discover the benefits of this approach for themselves.
How to Identify if your Symptoms are Hormone Related
Many times, men come into our office after they’ve noticed they haven’t quite been themselves. Often there are complaints about low energy levels, decreased sex drive. It’s also common to hear about a decreased motivation to do anything! Another common symptom in men is the loss of muscle mass and increased fat. A lot of times with the men, it’s their wives that are pushing them to go get checked out because they’re seeing changes in their personality, they might see them getting more irritable, a lot more fatigued, and the “get up and go” they used to have just isn’t there.
Similar to men, women can notice that they have low energy and low sex drive. Weight gain is another reason women notice that they are losing their hormones. Poor sleep, hot flashes and moodiness are also very common symptoms in women.
It can be very frustrating to deal with hormonal changes as a man or a woman.
How BHRT Works and When to Consider it
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, abbreviated as BHRT, is a treatment method that utilizes hormones that closely resemble those naturally produced by the human body. While these hormones are not sourced directly from humans, they are plant-based and have the same chemical structure as human hormones. The use of bio-identical hormones helps to replace missing or depleted hormones in a manner that is more compatible with the human body.
If you are considering BHRT, it is important to be tested by a licensed health professional before proceeding with any treatment.
Restoring your Body’s Physiological Normal
At our practice, our approach to BHRT is to aim for a physiologic normal rather than a pharmacological one. So we’re trying to bring your physiology back to where it’s supposed to be. Using bio-identical hormones extracted from natural sources is a key part of our approach to BHRT. For example, if a patient needs progesterone, we may use a bio-identical progesterone extracted from wild yams, which matches the structure of human progesterone. This approach helps to minimize side effects and promote better absorption by the body, leading to a more natural and effective hormone balance.
Typically BHRT involves plant based hormones that have an identical makeup to human hormones as opposed to traditional hormone replacement that most places use, which are either synthetic or animal derived.
Using animal derived hormones can cause problems for humans. In estrogen’s case the hormone Premarin is from a pregnant horse’s urine. This hormone source matches what horses have, which is why humans may have trouble with it due to the differences in hormone makeup between horses and humans. As such, bio-identical hormones sourced from plants provide a more natural and effective approach to hormone replacement therapy.
Is Your Family Medicine Practitioner the Right Fit for HRT? Understanding the Differences in Approach
Many patients may initially turn to a family medicine practitioner to treat a hormone imbalance. However they may not offer the most comprehensive approach to HRT when using traditional methods. Traditional family practice places often use synthetic hormones in the form of pills or capsules that can cause side effects such as excess hair growth, oily skin, irritability, and even changes in voice for women with high levels of testosterone. Hormone pellets are another type of hormone therapy, but they can lead to surges and crashes in hormone levels. This is because they are typically administered in a much higher dose and only given every 3 months or so.
Additionally, not all doctors check all levels properly when starting hormone replacement therapy. For instance, in men, a lot of times if they’re taking testosterone, their body can turn it into estrogen. If the doctor doesn’t measure their estrogen, they wouldn’t know that was happening. With hormone replacement, it’s quite important to work with a doctor that specializes in hormone replacement therapy.
How Saliva Based Hormone Testing is Important
We do our hormone testing through saliva testing. Our specialized lab testing provides a better picture of hormone levels at a tissue level, rather than just measuring hormones in the bloodstream. We test for estrogen which is actually a group of hormones in the body. We also check for progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA (a male hormone). Additionally we check cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone that can cause major imbalances in the human body. It’s important to note that hormone balance is not just about estrogen and testosterone levels – it’s a complex system that involves many different hormones.
Most Common Misconceptions with BHRT
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about any treatment is that they think that if they get on the right cream, lotion or potion everything will magically be back to normal. This is not the case. Typically people also have to make lifestyle changes to help with any treatment they receive. Eating better, especially in this fast paced culture is hugely important. The main thing is eating whole organic foods that are as natural as possible. It’s not only what food you eat, but also when and how you eat, which can sound weird to people. It’s all about finding a balance that works for each individual and their unique needs.
How Long Does it Take to Start Seeing Results?
This is the hardest question we get, because we’ve had people feel better in two days, and we’ve seen other people taking 2 to 3 months before seeing any changes. Again, part of it does have to do with how willing the person is to do some of the hard work mentioned previously. Sometimes the longer you’ve been out of balance, the longer it can take to get you back in balance. So there’s really no one answer to that. And so when we’re talking to patients, we try our best to give them reasonable expectations. Even by starting to remove processed sugar and unhealthy foods on their own, patients can start seeing results pretty quickly.
If you are not in our area, it is recommended that you find a local practice that specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. You can use google reviews to make sure that they provide good patient results.
Cheryl is a Certified Physician Assistant with over 37 years of experience in Family Medicine. After struggling with her own health issues, including hormone imbalances, Cheryl became passionate about finding solutions for her patients beyond traditional medicine. She pursued additional training in bio-identical hormones, thyroid conditions, adrenal fatigue, anti-aging, and nutrition to provide a more comprehensive approach to her patients’ care.
Cheryl is dedicated to finding locally sourced, nutritionally superior foods for her patients and encourages lifestyle changes to complement any medical treatments. She has a unique set of skills, talents, and knowledge regarding hormone replacement and nutrition, and her enthusiasm for her work is evident in her care for each client.
Cheryl is happily married with two wonderful children and is an active member of her church. Her faith and family are her top priorities, and she brings this same level of care and commitment to her patients.