Conditions Treated with Bioidentical HRT
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has helped many men and women overcome the challenges of hormonal decline in the Grater St. Louis area. While the most common reason for hormonal decline is aging, other reasons can include poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, high stress, and excessive alcohol or smoking. Despite the reason for hormonal decline, imbalanced hormones can lead to a series of conditions that can reduce the quality of life and create multiple symptoms. However, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can work to reduce these symptoms and help men and women regain control of their health. Bioidentical hormones are identical in chemical and molecular structure to the hormones produced in the human body, and for this reason they can be more easily metabolized in the human body without the threat of producing unpleasant side effects.
Because hormones work to regulate many systems, such as digestion, the immune system, metabolism, energy and heat production, reproduction, sexual dysfunction, and neurological functions, imbalances can lead to many health issues. The most common issues related to hormone decline are age related, which can lead to the syndromes known as perimenopause, menopause, and andropause. Other issues may involve immune dysfunction and may lead to fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Hormones that work to control metabolism, such as thyroid hormone, can lead to thyroid imbalances, which can be remedied with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Stress related syndromes that create hormonal imbalances may also be relieved with bioidentical hormones replacement therapy.
Common Conditions that can be treated with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy include:
Adrenal fatigue is a term used when fatigue and other symptoms are caused by poorly working adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue can be attributed to mental, physical or emotional stress. When the body is stressed, the hormone cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands to help the body deal with stress and when the body is constantly stressed, the adrenal glands get overworked and can’t keep up with the demand for cortisol. The result is a lack of cortisol production which leads to what we call adrenal fatigue. In addition to cortisol, low levels of DHEA and testosterone can also lead to adrenal fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include trouble sleeping, feeling tired, loss of strength and muscle mass, anxiety, depression, aching joints and erectile dysfunction.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can relieve adrenal fatigue by increasing levels of cortisol, DHEA and testosterone-the hormones responsible for energy, mental functioning, and a healthy sex drive. After hormone replacement, men report feeling energized, confident and having mental clarity and focus.
A headache (cephalalgia) is pain anywhere in the head or neck region of the body. As hormone levels fluctuate, the dramatic changes can manifest themselves in the form of headaches. Progesterone and estrogen together help regulate the production of chemicals in the brain that bring on headaches, like the stress hormone cortisol. Perimenopause affects estrogen and progesterone production and they influence the production of stress hormones in the brain like cortisol, and when under stress, excess cortisol is produced and headaches result.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can alleviate headaches by balancing the levels of progesterone and estrogen which regulate the production of stress hormones like cortisol. It has been shown that hormone replacement reduces headaches in many sufferers.
Mood swings are unprovoked, sudden changes in mood or inappropriate responses to an occurrence or event. Estrogen helps regulate serotonin (e.g., a mood hormone) and when estrogen levels fluctuate, serotonin levels and mood fluctuate accordingly.
Since the causes of mood swings are due to hormonal imbalance they can be rectified by increasing declining hormone levels with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. With hormone levels balanced, the body has the ability to fend off stress and other causes of mood swings.
Allergies are an abnormal immune system response to a harmless substance like pollen, pet dander, or mold. These substances are referred to as allergens. Allergies are a common problem affecting about 2 out of every 10 Americans. Symptoms of allergies include itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, feeling tired, itchy or runny nose, hives and rashes. Men and women have allergies, but women are not only challenged with balancing known triggers like pollen and mold, they must also manage the fact that the female hormones in their bodies are constantly changing in ways that might impact how well they can breathe. The fluctuation of hormone levels like estrogen during the menstrual cycle can have as much an impact on the ability to breathe as hay fever. According to toxicologists, this is due to estrogen levels activating proteins that produce an inflammatory response that produces asthma like symptoms.
Balancing levels of estrogen with hormone replacement therapy can reduce asthma like symptoms and relieve many of the symptoms associated with allergies and asthma.
A hormonal imbalance refers abnormally high or low levels of hormones (e.g., estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol and DHEA). Hormonal imbalance can have many causes such as trauma, menopause, adrenal fatigue, andropause, medication or stress. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance include, but are not limited to hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, sleep apnea, weight gain, gynecomastia (e.g., male breasts) muscle loss, memory loss, low libido, erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can improve hormonal imbalance by checking current levels of hormones and supplementing them with bioidentical hormones. Many of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance will lessen or cease with appropriate hormone levels.
Night sweats in men and women can be a signal of hormonal imbalance. It’s generally believed that the hypothalamus receives false signals that the body is overheating and begins to release the excess heat. Since the body is not overheating, night sweats can occur. This is brought on by low testosterone levels and high cortisol levels in men and low estrogen levels in women.
Hot flashes are sudden and intense feelings of warmth over the face, neck and chest. A number of conditions cause hot flashes including hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid), low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), but most often in women the culprit is menopause. Also, men who have had their prostate removed or have a disease associated with the prostate can experience hot flashes as a result of the decreased testosterone levels. In women, hot flashes are due to low levels of estrogen that confuse the hypothalamus into thinking the body is overheating. The result is hot flashes during the day and night sweats at night.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help men and women suffering from hot flashes by restoring levels of testosterone and cortisol in men and estrogen in women. For some men with prostate cancer, a small amount of estrogen is given and this usually diminishes the problem.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces more thyroid hormones than the body needs. Symptoms include nervousness or irritability, mood swings, fatigue or muscle weakness, heat intolerance, trouble sleeping, hand tremors, rapid and irregular heartbeat, frequent bowel movements or diarrhea, weight loss, and goiter (enlarged or swollen thyroid gland). This disorder is most common in women, anyone over 60, and those with other thyroid disorders.
Most often, hyperthyroidism is treated using radioiodine that puts the thyroid in an underactive state (hypothyroidism). Lifelong bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to supplement the hormones no longer produced by the underactive thyroid.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can relieve these symptoms by elevating levels of testosterone and lowering levels of cortisol. False signals sent to the hypothalamus will cease and the body won’t try to expel non-existent excess heat.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone to keep up with the needs of the body. Hashimoto’s disease, a condition where the thyroid is attacked by the immune system until it no longer produces hormones, is the leading cause of hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, puffiness in the face, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, poor memory or mental fogginess, constipation, dry skin, dry, thinning hair, decreased sweating, heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility issues, depression, and slowed heart rate.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy treats hypothyroidism by increasing the levels of thyroid hormones and monitoring other hormone levels that may affect thyroid functioning. Hypothyroidism is very treatable and once under-going treatment, most live happy productive lives.
Depression is commonly caused by deficient testosterone levels. Men with low levels of testosterone are 400% more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Low thyroid levels or hypothyroidism may also contribute to depression. In addition, when levels of estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol are imbalanced, women tend to experience depressive symptoms like disinterest, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and irritability, fatigue and abnormal sleep patterns. Low thyroid levels or hypothyroidism may also contribute to depression. This is due to the low levels of the thyroid hormone T3 which decreases serotonin (i.e., the happy hormone), an essential neurotransmitter for moods and behavior.
Depending on the cause, there are many ways to treat depression with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. From thyroid hormones to testosterone, estrogen and cortisol hormone replacement therapy can benefit those suffering from this debilitating condition.
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
IBS is a common disorder that affects the colon. IBS has been known to cause cramping, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain. IBS affects both sexes and all races; but women are 2 to 3 times more likely to have IBS than men. It’s thought that about 14% to 24% of women and 5% to 19% of men in the United States and Great Britain suffer from IBS.
Postmenopausal women with IBS who undergo hormone replacement therapy report less bloating than patients who do not take hormones. Also, premenopausal women report exacerbation of IBS symptoms with the onset of menses and the production of prostaglandin has been shown to exacerbate diarrhea. It has been suggested that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy regimens that contain more progesterone and less estrogen may help patients in whom functional nausea, weight loss, and IBS overlap.
Premature aging refers to an unnatural aging process brought on by smoking, sun exposure or an unhealthy lifestyle. Symptoms of premature aging include, wrinkles on the face, crow’s feet, balding, thinning skin, graying hair, and loss of strength and muscle.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can reduce the symptoms of premature aging by replacing vital hormones lost. Supplementing hormones like estrogen and testosterone have been shown to give recipients a youthful glow, increase strength and muscle mass and decrease muscle atrophy.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue not caused by other medical conditions. Fatigue can worsen with physical or mental activity, but does not improve with rest. Though the cause of chronic fatigue is unknown, some experts believe chronic fatigue may be a viral infection or immune system disorder, while others believe it to be related to psychological stress, trauma or toxins. Symptoms of chronic fatigue include, but are not limited to post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours (i.e., flu like symptoms following activity), unrefreshing sleep, significant impairment of short-term memory or concentration, muscle pain, pain in joints without swelling or redness, headaches not common to that individual (e.g., severity, new type, pattern), tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, and a frequently or recurring sore throat.
Hormone replacement therapy helps those suffering from chronic fatigue by replacing hormones produced by the pituitary glands, hypothalamus, and thyroid. For instance, replenishing levels of cortisol helps patients deal with the stress brought on by the symptoms of chronic fatigue, but may also remedy chronic fatigue, as it is thought that chronic fatigue is a stress disorder.
Insomnia is chronic sleeplessness or the inability to sleep. Those with insomnia have a problem getting to sleep, staying asleep, or both. Insomnia can have many causes such as, night sweats, chronic stress, anxiety or adrenal fatigue. It is also believed that hormonal imbalance may also cause insomnia.
Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate insomnia by balancing levels of estrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Estrogen is known as a sleep maintaining hormone and low estrogen levels have been linked to sleeplessness. In addition, a low level of testosterone has been linked to increased snoring and sleep apnea. Balancing levels of these vital hormones can have a dramatic effect on the quality of life for recipients.
The thyroid is a gland located below the Adam’s apple and above the neck. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which releases hormones responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism including heart rate and how fast the body burns calories. There are five types of thyroid disorders- hyperthyroidism (i.e., overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (i.e., underactive thyroid), thyroid cancer (i.e., cancer of the thyroid), goiter (i.e., non-cancerous swelling of the thyroid), and thyroid nodules (i.e., growths inside or on the thyroid). Symptoms of thyroid disorders include nervousness, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, dry or thinning hair, depression, slow heart rate, difficulty breathing, coughing or wheezing, tightness in the neck, dry skin and cold intolerance. The most common thyroid disorder is by far hypothyroidism and most treatments are focused on this particular problem.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can improve thyroid functioning by testing thyroid hormone levels and supplementing those hormones to appropriate levels. The most common thyroid hormone prescribed is T4 or levothyroxine and for most people this is adequate to treat hypothyroidism. But, some need T3 or liothyronine to effectively treat their symptoms, while others need a combination of both.
Lowered sex drive is the most common sexual complaint of women and men. It’s believed that men and women with low testosterone levels suffer from disinterest in sex. For both sexes testosterone produces a heightened response during sex and helps to achieve orgasm. High levels of estrogen in conjunction with low levels of testosterone are thought to contribute to decreased interest in sexual activity.
Balancing estrogen and testosterone levels with hormone replacement therapy can improve sexual functioning, enhance sexual activity, positive well-being and overall life satisfaction.
Water retention -also known as fluid retention- refers to the excess build-up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissue or body cavities. Many times water retention is caused by hormonal imbalances, especially high estrogen levels. Periods of hormonal imbalance may be due to menstruation, menopause or pregnancy. Symptoms of water retention include swelling of the hands, feet and ankles, feeling stiffness or aching and weight fluctuations.
Hormone replacement therapy can reduce water retention by balancing levels of estrogen and testosterone. Lowering estrogen levels can reduce the swelling of the hands, feet and ankles and alleviate stiffness, aching and weight fluctuations.
Low-grade fevers (menopause)
Women experiencing perimenopause may have low grade fevers. This is thought to occur due to low estrogen levels in conjunction with low levels of serotonin. Symptoms of low grade fever include chills, night sweats, weakness, body aches and increased heart rate.
Balancing levels of estrogen and serotonin have been known to relieve women of the symptoms of low grade fever. Hormone replacement therapy can help women feel normal and continue daily activities without worry.
Weight Loss Resistance
Weight loss resistance refers to not being able to lose weight and keep the weight off. It usually occurs due to a hormonal, metabolic, or physiologic imbalance that makes weight loss difficult. If you eat right and exercise and still can’t lose weight, you be experiencing weight loss resistance.
The key to treating weight loss resistance begins with checking hormone levels including thyroid hormones, adrenal gland hormones and neurotransmitters. Bioidentical hormone replacement can adjust hormone levels and help sufferers lose the weight they want and look and feel healthy.
Gastrointestinal disorders are disorders where the bowel looks normal but does not work properly. There are many gastrointestinal disorders, but the most common are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. Symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders include pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Many gastrointestinal disorders are thought to be caused by excess stress or anxiety, or can worsen with the onset of stress or anxiety.
Gastrointestinal disorders can be treated with hormone replacement therapy and the balancing of hormones like estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and neurotransmitters like serotonin. High estrogen and low testosterone levels have been linked to stress and anxiety along with high levels of cortisol (i.e., the stress hormone) and low levels of serotonin (i.e., the happy hormone). Balancing levels of these critical hormones can help people to lead healthy and happy lives.
Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis makes skin cells build up quickly on the surface of the skin. This forms thick, dry, itchy patches that can be painful. Although there is no cure, psoriasis treatments traditionally try to slow the life cycle of the cells. Common symptoms of psoriasis include red and dry patches of skin with silvery scales, cracked skin that may bleed, and painful or swollen joints.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis by increasing levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol. Cortisol is commonly used to treat psoriasis because it has been shown that high stress levels can inflame psoriasis.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells and most often appears on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back. Acne is persistent and annoying and can cause scarring and severe emotional distress. Acne symptoms include whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts and nodules. The sooner treatment is rendered, the less the chance of scarring and long-term emotional distress.
Hormonal imbalances can be the reason for acne breakouts. High cortisol levels, estrogen dominance (i.e., high estrogen and low progesterone levels) and hypothyroidism (i.e., under-active thyroid) have all been shown linked to acne breakouts. Hormone replacement therapy can relieve acne symptoms and stress and help sufferers feel better about their appearance.
Eczema is a chronic long-lasting skin condition characterized by an itchy inflammation of the skin that may be accompanied by hay fever or asthma. Eczema can affect any area of the skin, but is normally found on the arms and behind the knees. Eczema is thought to be caused by hereditary immune system malfunctioning and sensitive skin. Eczema symptoms include red to brownish-gray colored patches, raw sensitive skin, thickened or cracked scaly skin, severe itchiness, and small red bumps that may leak fluid when scratched.
Eczema is an autoimmune condition and can be treated with hormones that help immune system functioning. Low production of thyroid hormones and low adrenal levels can be the source of eczema problems. Balancing levels of thyroid hormones in conjunction with raising adrenal gland hormone levels has been successful in treating eczema and patients report fewer eczema flare ups.
Urinary issues affect males and females, but females are more likely to be diagnosed. The most common urinary problem is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is characterized by an urgent feeling to urinate and urine leakage that can be brought on by movement or stress. One treatment for urinary issues in women is estrogen. The bladder and urethra have receptors for estrogen. During the menopausal stages, a woman’s body produces less estrogen and this weakens the supportive tissue around the bladder and urethra which may aggravate stress incontinence.
By elevating estrogen levels, bioidentical hormone replacement can reduce the occurrence of urinary problems. Estrogen helps strengthen the supportive tissue of the bladder and urethra and lessens urine leakage.