What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy And Does It Really Work?
Do you feel miserable? Are you achy? Have you lost your zest for life? Do you feel like your body is getting old and your mind is not as sharp as it once was? Is this really what aging is all about?
No! Science tells us that there is no known disease associated with aging, so if you feel stressed and out-of-sorts, something is out of balance. Functional and metabolic medicine providers look at what is out of balance in your body to determine what makes you feel so unlike yourself. Frequently, the answer comes down to hormonal imbalance.
Hormones contribute to how we feel on a daily basis. Balanced hormones help us feel great, both mentally and physically. If our hormones become unbalanced, we feel sick, out of touch, and miserable. Low levels of hormones affect our mental state and can lead to diabetes, heart disease, gut problems, and even cancer!
Hormones & The Media
Unfortunately, the media presents misinformation about hormones. It bombards the public with false reports saying estrogen and testosterone replacement actually causes cancer, which confuses patients. Many women experiencing menopause visit the providers at Dr. Leila, Quality of Life Medicine feeling completely miserable, yet afraid of hormone replacement because they’ve heard it causes cancer.
Traditional hormone replacement therapy often uses pharmaceutical hormones that are not the same molecule that the body makes, so they cause adverse side effects. Our bodies are very complex and need the exact “key” to fit our molecular “locks”, or receptor sites on cells. When we use bioidentical hormones – designed to be the exact molecule that the body makes – the end result is much different. Bioidentical hormones help the body function better and actually reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
With men, our society falsely assumes that as long as a man can achieve an erection, his testosterone level must be okay. Men experience a decline in hormone production (andropause) just as women do (menopause), but it occurs much slower – over decades rather than years. As testosterone levels drop, every cell that has a receptor for testosterone will not function as well. That’s every cell in a man’s body! Aside from the genitals, the brain and the heart have the most testosterone receptors, so these organs suffer the most when testosterone levels drop.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are substances produced in special tissues in the body, then released into the bloodstream. They travel to cells in other parts of the body where the hormone then exerts a characteristic effect. Essentially, they help our cells communicate with each other. Every cell in our body has receptors for hormones, so none of our cells can function properly without adequate levels of hormones.
How can hormones be harmful to us? Bioidentical hormones are much different than pharmaceutical hormones. Bioidentical hormones are an exact replica of the molecule that our bodies produce naturally. Because their structure is identical, they can’t be patented. Thus, pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to make them.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
Balancing Estrogen & Progesterone
Hormones must be balanced, so women shouldn’t take estrogen alone. Estrogen, a powerful hormone, causes the growth of cells. We need this growth to develop breasts and to line the uterus every month. Estrogen needs to be balanced by progesterone. Progesterone decreases the amount of estrogen produced and increases its breakdown. Progesterone also decreases the number of growth receptors on breasts and the uterus.
Studies show that women who have been low in progesterone much of their lives have a higher risk for breast cancer. We need to have well-balanced estrogen and progesterone levels to help our immune system function properly. If we are in a state of “estrogen dominance” where progesterone is low and estrogen is high, we encourage not only tissue growth, but inflammation as well, and cancer loves inflammation!
When we use well-balanced bioidentical hormones, our risk for cancer and heart disease actually decreases.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men
Maintaining Your A-Game
Low testosterone levels have serious implications for men’s health. Testosterone builds muscle and burns sugar. It’s also a man’s most powerful anti-inflammatory. Most diseases today, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and muscle and joint aches, are due to inflammation.
Low testosterone is definitively linked to an increased risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and congestive heart failure. Testosterone not only helps the heart function better (because the heart is, after all, a big muscle) but also dilates the arteries that feed blood to the heart and reduces cholesterol plaque formation in the carotid arteries that feed the brain.
If you’d like more information about hormone replacement for men and women, contact us or call 585.773.4777 for our Rochester office and 315.792.3686 for our Central New York office!