Conditions Treated with Bioidentical HRT
Lori Moore, FNP has used bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to treat a wide number of conditions. Men and women have been able to replace deficient hormones and improve their overall health through the use of bio-identical hormones. Because bio-identical hormones are identical to the hormones produced in the human body, people can reap the benefits of these hormones without suffering from the negative side effects. Some of the conditions that can be improved with bio-identical hormones include:
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.
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.
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.
Alopecia (hair loss)
Alopecia areata is non-scarring type of hair loss characterized by round patches of hairlessness. The condition is considered to be benign, but can cause tremendous emotional and psychological stress on sufferers, especially women. Besides the round patches of hair loss, most people don’t have any other symptoms, but some may experience a burning sensation around the area(s) of hair loss. In rare cases, total baldness develops. Alopecia can have many causes. These include genetics, stress (excess cortisol), thyroid disease and hormonal imbalance. The hormonal imbalance is due to the relationship between testosterone and DHT. DHT causes the hair growth period to shorten and the resting period to lengthen. DHT is made from testosterone, so if testosterone levels are high, DHT levels are high, which may result in hair loss.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can reverse the effects of alopecia due to hormonal imbalance by balancing the levels of DHT and testosterone. Both men and women have seen drastic changes in hair loss when their hormone levels have been adjusted.
Anger, Irritability and Anxiety
Anger and irritability are generally thought to be the result of high stress cortisol levels and low levels of testosterone, though high estrogen levels can also be the cause. High cortisol levels diminish the amount of free testosterone in the blood stream, leading to increased estrogen levels and irritability. Men experiencing andropause and women experiencing perimenopause who are angry or irritable may appear tense, frustrated, sad, demanding, hostile, impatient, defensive and antagonizing.
The good news is that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can reduce feelings of anger and irritability by balancing levels of testosterone, estrogen and cortisol in the body. Increasing the amounts of testosterone for men and estrogen for women can remedy the symptoms of anger and irritability and help people feel better in the process.
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.
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.
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.