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Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy

Biologically identical hormones - the latest and greatest of all hormone therapies

Bio-identical hormones are the new kid on the block and probably ones that will become the default hormone treatment in a matter of years unless the drug manufacturers have their way.  There have been quite a few controversies around hormones in general, but these are generally reserved for synthetic hormones.  

While the body may react properly in one way to the synthetic hormone, there can be substantial side effects as well, and there are strong concerns over their safety.  Such risks have been identified as particularly risky to those with a history of cancer.  

there are always risks to anything and this would include adding hormones of any kind to your body, there are no known more risks for using bio-identical hormones than there would be if you could simply increase your body's own hormone output.  

This is not to say you shouldn't keep track of what's going on in you body.  Any doctor working with you and your hormone levels should do regular blood tests to determine whether your body is handling it and using the hormones well.  Adjustments may have to be made and there's always that possibility that your body won't react well or that the hormones could produce some negative side effects.

Bioidentical hormones are structurally the same as those found in your body, not ones that just trigger the same biological response.

So why wouldn't everyone use bioidenticals?  Simply put, there's not as much money in it.  Drug companies cannot patent a biological substance like hormones so they come up with their own synthetic version of it.  

Bioidentical hormones aren't that hard to make, but drug companies just prefer to not do so for economic reasons.  Because bioidentical hormones are actually superior to the synthetic ones, more tolerable, and less risky, this makes the bioidentical version of the hormones potentially more dangerous to the profits of the drug companies.  Many pharmaceutical manufacturers have notoriously been against anything that their industry cannot exclusively develop and patent.  

Bio-identical hormones are also ideal because they are "balanced".  Humans aren't simple creatures and neither are our hormonal balances.  Both men and women carry the same hormones, but in different quantities.  Men carry a small amount of estrogen, and women carry a small amount of testosterone.  However, too much of the wrong kind can have less than desirable effects.  

It is testosterone that is responsible for sex drive.  Because they are balanced in bio-identical hormone treatments, both sexes will see a marked increase in sexual desire when starting on a bio-identical balanced hormone treatment plan.  

Women get far less testosterone in their their hormone therapies, but it is quite adequate and must also be properly managed.  Like anything else, just because some is good does not mean that much more is better.  

Forms of hormones used

There are essentially three forms of hormone substances used today.  Synthetic hormones are chemical formulas that are supposed to act like the hormone stated, natural hormones that are created from botanicals and act like hormones, but are still structurally different.  And then there are bio-identical hormones which actually ARE hormones (testosterone and estrogen).  

Bio-identical hormones are also made from botanicals, but they are structurally exactly the same thing that your body produces.

As with all hormone therapies, there are a variety of ways that bio-identical hormone therapies can be introduced to the body.  Each should be evaluated according to your lifestyle and your personality.  

Hormone Injections - Involves a quick regular trip to the doctor's office for a monthly injection or one that you can do yourself a couple of times per week.  For those used to allergy shots, this is pretty standard.  

The upside is that all you have to remember to do something is once per month.  

The downside is that you will notice an immediate peak after the shot along with a slow decline towards the end of the cycle.  This can create a bit of a roller coaster feeling that many people find bothersome.  There may also be some additional side effects from sudden increases in hormone levels.

Hormone Patches and Creams - Involves applying a hormonal ointment or patch on a daily basis to clean dry skin.  

The upsides are that your hormone levels stay where they are supposed to all the time and you merely need to see a doctor once or twice a year to make sure that everything is going as planned.  

The downsides of course are that you need to remember to do this on a daily basis and you have to carry it with you.  If do not already have a daily medication regimen, doing this can be hard to remember every day.  

Subcutaneous Hormone Implant - Relatively new, bio-identical hormones can come in a subcutaneous (under the skin) pelletized version.  These involve a trip to the doctor's office for a bit of microsurgery 3-4 times per year.  

Bio-identical hormones come in small pellets about the size of a grain of rice.  Depending upon the patient requirements and manufacturer, several of these will be required - one for small increases, and perhaps up to 4-5  or more for larger treatments.  

The patient is fully awake for the procedure and it is done in a doctor's office, but a bit of lidocaine will be used to numb the implant area, usually just below the belt on one buttock cheek.  A small incision is made, the pellets are placed inside, and it is closed up with a butterfly bandage.  

Such a procedure will rarely take any more than 5-10 minutes including the time necessary to numb the skin, and you may experience a slight bit of skin soreness for a day or two.   

The upsides to subcutaneous hormone implants are that you don't have to remember it daily, you will have a steady flow of hormones into your system, and you can more or less forget about it for several months.  

The downsides are that you do have to have this regular small bit of surgery and you will experience a mildly sensitive area from the cut for a day or so.  There is also no "at home" treatment option for this.  You must see the doctor several times per year.

 

 

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