Bio-Identical Hormones: What, How, and Why?

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What are bio-identical hormones?

Hormone replacement therapy has conventionally consisted of replacing hormones with synthetic and semi-synthetic hormones for treating hormonal imbalances and low hormone levels within the body. Semisynthetic hormones are derived from animal sources, such as equine or bovine, and synthetic hormones are manufactured in a laboratory setting.

Structures of synthetic hormones are not identical to hormones made from the body, and can function differently and generate unwanted side effects.

On the other hand, bio-identical hormones (also called “natural hormones”) are derived from plant sources and are structurally completely identical to hormones made within the body.1

Bio-identical hormones are safer than synthetic or semi-synthetic hormones

that have different structures from the normal hormones that are produced in the body, and are highly effective.2, 3 The numerous benefits of bio-identical hormone therapy is discussed in depth below. It is extremely important to work with a physician who has ample experience and knowledge of bio-identical hormone therapy to achieve the safest and most optimal hormone levels.

Testosterone

Testosterone, the primary male hormone, declines with age. As men hit their mid-40s to 50s,

a dramatic decrease in testosterone cause andropause, the male version of menopause.

Getting accurate levels of free testosterone (testosterone available for the body to use) and finding the optimal level of testosterone is critical to testosterone replacement therapy. Major benefits of testosterone include:

  • Improve Sexual Function: Restoring optimal testosterone levels can help bring back the vitality in men and their overall sexual function, lost due to decreasing levels of testosterone. Testosterone also keeps the prostate healthy.
  • Lose Belly Fat: As men get older, it becomes increasingly hard to lose weight and build muscle. Supplementing with testosterone through hormone therapy has shown to help men lose their belly fat, build muscle easier, and increase energy.
  • Heart Health: Optimal testosterone levels can help protect men from heart disease, leading cause of death in men in the U.S. Testosterone decreases overall cholesterol levels, boost HDL levels, dilate the arteries, which all contribute to a healthy heart.
  • Feel Good: Decrease in sexual function and libido due to low testosterone levels often cause men to feel depressed and distressed. Restoring optimal levels reverse the symptoms, making men feel better and happier.

    Instead of treating depression with antidepressants, which can cause negative sexual side effects, middle aged and older men should first check their free testosterone levels.

DHEA

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland that serves as a precursor to testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. In addition, DHEA also has functions of its own. DHEA levels decrease in the body with age as the adrenal gland deteriorates with age. At Phoenix Men’s Health Center, we prescribe DHEA in a micronized lipid matrix form for optimal absorption. Some of the main benefits of DHEA include the following:

  • Fight Stress: DHEA is inversely related to cortisol, the primary stress hormone. As DHEA level rises, cortisol level decreases, along with the negative effect that prolonged & high levels of cortisol can have on the body. DHEA alters how we handle stress internally and externally.
  • Boost Immune Function: With age, our immune system is compromised partly due to the deterioration of the thymus gland, which produces T cells for the immune system. DHEA prevents degeneration of the thymus gland, which allows bodies to sustain strong immune system and function.
  • Prevent Cancer: Lab administration of DHEA to mice have shown decreased risk for numerous cancers, including breast, lung, liver, skin, and more. As cancer is strongly related to aging and DHEA functions as an anti-aging hormone, DHEA can reduce the risks of certain cancers.
  • Heart Health & Weight Loss: DHEA can convert to testosterone and estradiol, which decrease abdominal fat and risk for diabetes, obesity, and in turn heart disease. DHEA can also reduce insulin resistance.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, has been used for hormone therapy the longest (over 40 years). Estrogen has copious benefits for women, especially for aging women.

Bio-identical estrogen can safely and effectively treat complications involved in aging of a woman, especially menopause-related symptoms.

At Phoenix Men’s Health Center, we supplement bio-identical estrogen therapy with progesterone, a complimentary female sex hormone. Progesterone augments estrogen’s benefits and balances out estrogen. The benefits of estrogen are the following:

  • Fight Menopause: During or after her mid- 40s, women experience a decline in estrogen and a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms along with it, such as hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, and more. Administration of estrogen can quickly and effectually take care of these symptoms, which are primarily driven by sudden decrease in estrogen.
  • Healthy Bones: Declining levels of estrogen is connected to rapid loss in bone mass because estrogen helps the body utilize calcium and form bones. Therefore, estrogen supplementation can prevent and treat osteoporosis, a major health concern for aging women.
  • Healthy Heart: Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in women. Estrogen has been shown to decrease heart disease risk by up to 50 percent. Estrogen lowers LDL and raise HDL, protects heart and arteries from free radicals, and increases insulin sensitivity.

Phoenix Men’s Health Center offers bio-identical hormone therapy to patients struggling with hormonal imbalance and its effects. The first step is to get an accurate idea of the hormone levels within the body, which requires taking blood samples to obtain precise information. Bio-identical hormone therapy is offered with continuous care from our providers and routine hormone level monitoring. We take into account whether you would be a good candidate for bio-identical hormone therapy, what formulation would work best for you, as well as trying to maximize the positive effects of hormone therapy while minimizing side effects. Please contact our front office at 602-908-5422 or click here to schedule an appointment.

References:

  1. Conaway, E. 2011. Bio-identical Hormones: An Evidence-based Review for Primary Care Providers. Journal of American Osteopathic Association. 111(3): 153-64.
  2. Wright, J. 2005. Bio-Identical Steroid Hormone Replacement. Annual New York Academy of Sciences. 1057: 506-524
  3. Moskowitz, D. 2006. A Comprehensive Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Bio-identical Hormones for the Management of Menopause and Related Health Risks. Alternative Medicine Review. 11(3)
  4. Rouzier, N. 2007. How to Achieve Healthy Aging: Why Everyone Should Replace Hormones, A Review of the Medical Literature. Wordlink Medical Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT).

 

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