Hormone Balance: The Key to Optimal Health
Both men and women have to have normal estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol to be healthy. Your hormones should exist in harmony with each other. When levels of each hormone are in the right proportions, body systems are the most stable. When balance is lost, hormone deficiencies and/or hormone excesses can cause chronic symptoms and disorders, and raise risks for disease. Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is a delicate balancing act. At Cryomed Clinic, we work with patients to determine the root cause of their symptoms.
Symptoms that may signify an imbalance include:
- Weight Gain
- Mood swings
- Loss of libido (sex drive)
Please download, print and complete the comprehensive Symptom Checker (PDF) to take with you to your appointment at CryoMed Clinic.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogens play important roles in stimulating growth of the reproductive tissues, maintaining, healthy bones, increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, and helping keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
What is progesterone?
When many of us think of progesterone we think of it as being a hormone strictly for women. However, men need progesterone too. It helps to counteract the effects of estrogen on the male body. Not only is progesterone found in males, but men rely on it to preserve their masculinity. Younger women with regular cycles generally make adequate progesterone, consistent with their having fewer symptoms of estrogen excess. Progesterone is important in normal menstrual cycles, breast development, maintaining pregnancy, relaxing blood vessels and influencing neurotransmitters in the brain.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone produced predominately by the ovaries in women and the testes in men. It is essential for creating energy, maintaining optimal brain function (memory), regulating the immune system, and building and maintaining the integrity of structural tissues such as skin, muscles, and bone. Premenopausal testosterone levels usually fall within the high-normal range and postmenopausal levels at low-normal range. In men testosterone levels peak in the teens and then fall throughout adulthood.
What is DHEA?
DHEA is a testosterone precursor shown to have direct effects on the immune system independent of testosterone. Athletes tend to have higher than normal DHEAS levels. Low DHEAS can be caused by adrenal exhaustion and is commonly seen in accelerated aging and diseases such as cancer. High DHEAS is associated with insulin resistance/PCOS (polycystic ovaries) or DHEA supplementation.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stressors, both daily (e.g. waking up, low blood sugar) and unusual (e.g. emotional upset, infections, injury, surgery). Cortisol levels are highest in the morning, and then drop steadily throughout the day to their lowest point during sleep. Cortisol is essential in regulating and mobilizing the immune system against infections, and reducing inflammation. It helps to mobilize glucose, the primary energy source for the brain and maintain normal blood sugar levels. While normal levels of cortisol are essential for life and optimal functioning of other hormones, particularly thyroid hormone, chronically elevated levels can be detrimental to health. Stress and persistently elevated cortisol levels can contribute to premature aging and chronic illness.
What are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones derived from natural plant sources are identical to those that the body produces for itself, in the right proportions. When we replace the body’s hormones, it makes more sense to use entities which the body recognizes as its own, rather than hormones from horses or pig, which are imbalanced versions or overly potent synthetic versions.
Once my doctor prescribes bioidentical hormones, can I get them at any pharmacy?
Because the ingredients are naturally derived, it is impossible for a manufacturer to obtain a patent on these substances. Without a patent, it is unlikely that any drug manufacturer will go to the expense of pursuing these products for marketing and sales. Consequently, these bio-identical hormones must be prepared for the patient from pure, plant derived chemicals by a pharmacist at a compounding pharmacy.
What is a compounding pharmacy?
Actually, it’s the oldest type of pharmacy in the world: an apothecary with a pharmacist trained in formulating prescriptions and who prepares them from pure ingredients on the order of a physician. A caring and competent pharmacist works closely with the prescribing physician to create just the right dosage form and strength for you, the patient. Cryomed Clinic has developed close relationships with Tulsa’s local compounding pharmacies and pharmacist.
What dosage forms are available?
Compounded dosage forms are numerous and variable in nature. Each method has its advantages for use. Usage of specific dosage forms depend on patient compliance, type of response desired and medications involved. Oral capsules, vaginal suppositories, transdermal creams, gels and troches (a lozenge that dissolves between the gum and tongue), intramuscular injections and pellets are among the variety of dosage forms available to be compounded. Hormone supplementation is tailored to individual treatment needs.
Will my insurance company cover these treatments?
Although compounds such as these cannot be processed at the pharmacy like mass produced medications, most insurance companies will reimburse a percentage of the cost to the patient. Look closely at your benefit package. If you have a flexible spending account of HSA (Health Savings Account) you may use your account to pay for your consult and/or hormone prescription(s).
How will the doctor know what dose is right for me?
Every patient is different! Your provider will take many issues into account: age, weight, symptoms, gynecological history and prior or present use of hormones will all affect the choice of dose and dosage form. Saliva and/or blood spot testing, combined with your symptoms, is used to identify specific imbalances of one or more hormones and provides us with the tools we need to prescribe bioidentical hormone therapy. Followup testing and regular monitoring when using hormones allows us to adjust your dose as needed.
Call 918-394-2796 to schedule your consultation today. Please download, print and complete the comprehensive Symptom Checker (PDF) to take with you to your appointment.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone Replacement Therapy are synthetic or natural hormones. With HRT we are replacing the hormones that you lose as you age and optimizing the remaining hormones to your natural levels that you had in your 20’s and 30’s. HRT can help increased energy levels, increase or restore sexual drive, level out moods, relief from anxiety or depression, decreased body fat, increased mental clarity, greater capacity to getting your body in shape. HRT can also help if there are hormone imbalances with infertility, gender identity disorder, growth hormone deficiency, thyroid issues and adrenal fatigue.
What is the difference between HRT and BHRT?
Hormone therapy replacement or HRT is any form of hormone, typically a synthetic or natural hormone. Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy are non-synthetic, plant based hormones, that are identical biologically to human hormone–therefore your body will respond better and have less adverse side effects. Synthetic, may be patented by pharmaceutical companies; therefore dosage varies only by milligrams dictated by your doctor, while the molecular structure of the prescribed hormone is the same for every single person. Synthetic hormones are not created structurally the same as human endogenous hormones, which often leads uncomfortable side effects. While synthetic hormones can mimic the effects of endogenous hormones on certain biological pathways, they rarely offer the same effectiveness at a deeper, molecular level.
Bio-identical hormones mimic the affinity of human endogenous hormones; therefore they are effective on more biological pathways, at all levels. Because bio-identical hormones are an exact structural replica of endogenous hormones, side effects are rarely observed, and in the event you do experience side effects, talk with your doctor—the dosage may simply need to be adjusted. The added benefit of bio-identical hormones is that each dose is tailored specifically for your needs, not simply what doses the pharmaceutical company offers (as is the case with synthetic hormones.) However, when estrogen, even bio-identical estradiol is taken orally it dramatically increases your risk for blood clots, breast cancer and stroke. If I could tell women one thing right now it would be STOP TAKING ORAL ESTROGEN! No matter how small you think your dose is, even 2mg, STOP IT. (With that said, consult with your doctor first before stopping any medications.) The reason this happens is due to the “the first pass effect.” When you take Oral Estrogen, the estradiol has to travel through the liver first before your body can use it–this is where the adverse events occur. Research shows topical estradiol has ZERO increase risk of disease, and in fact can be protective. There are alternatives, let me help you find the answers by coming in to CryoMed Clinic for a consultation .
What is the big deal with BHRT, why do people do it?
About 90% of the time, my first time patients tell me, “Something is wrong, something is off, I don’t feel like myself, my marriage is getting worse, I don’t want to be intimate because I have no sex drive, my work is suffering, I’m exhausted, I’m gaining weight! I can’t go on like this anymore.” Usually, the next few sentence go something like this, “I have tried everything! I have asked my doctor to do blood tests on my hormones and either they say I don’t need to have that done–or if they do take my blood, they tell me my hormone levels are in the normal range.” This is where I come in. Because I specialize in hormones, I am able to test blood on a more specific level, or request different tests be conducted. This allows me to really pin-point where the issues are and what may or may not be off in my patients body. Patients are desperately seeking help, to feel back to normal, to feel like themselves again and regain control over their lives and their marriages. Research shows appropriate dosing of hormones prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimers. Testosterone and estrogen are both good for the brain, heart and bones. Progesterone is good for breast protection and improved sleep. Thyroid medication gives all our cells the energy that we need to assist weight-loss.
How long can you stay on BHRT?
We were always taught to prescribe the lowest dose needed to symptomatic relief for the shortest duration possible. The typical range for women who are going through menopause is 3-7 years. For men, because their hormone levels drop steadily after the age of 30, it’s realistic that they can stay on BHRT for as long as they wanted to optimize their levels. Because women’s bodies are more complex and we have a decline of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone hormones need to be monitored on a tri-level approach. When a woman is going on BHRT for hot flashes created by the active decline in estrogen, BHRT is not only reducing the flashes themselves but also the secondary complications including, insomnia, memory loss, irritability, depression and difficulty concentrating. After a few years, estrogen in a woman’s body is no longer declining but rather has entirely ceased production, this means hot-flashes have stopped and therefore it is recommend to stop BHRT. Some women fear if they stop BHRT, their memory problems, their sleep issues, and libido will resurface again—this is why some providers recommend continuing BHRT. Again, each person is different which is why month to month monitoring with me at CryoMed Clinic about medical history and lifestyle is essential for optimal results.
Do hormones cause cancer?
This is a great question that I get asked almost 100% of the time, and my response is always the same. I ask each person, man or woman, to think about what age group has the highest level of hormones. It is usually the 20-somethings. This same age group also has the lowest levels of breast and prostate cancer. I believe it is an imbalance of hormones mixed with our genetics and lifestyle that cause negative or positive health issues. The balance of hormones is the absolute most important part of my job in BHRT. It is not reasonable to assume that every patient receives the same amount of testosterone or estrogen. It is not a one size fits all approach. It is a science. It is about your blood and what the results on a lab test tell me that determine your specific course of action. This is why we at CryoMed Clinic, do a full metabolic and adrenal profile to determine which hormones and supplements you need to feel your best.
What about libido?
Libido is your sex drive. There are many different variables as to why your libido is low or non-existant, and a hormone imbalance is usually the reason. Sometimes your libido is low because of low levels of testosterone…but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes your libido is “off” because the levels of estrogen or progesterone in your body are not in a normal range. BHRT can definitely help with libido but there is also a supplement called Oxytocin, known as ‘the love drug’, that can be prescribed as well. Again, this is a case by case issue and a consultation with me at CryoMed Clinic is all it takes to see if this is something in your body that can be improved.
What if I want to know more about Hormone Replacement and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
CryMed Clinic offers consultations and that is the best way to get all your questions answered as well as to meet our staff and tour our facility. Call Today!!! (918)-394-2796 (CRYO)