Wilmington North Carolina HRT Specialists
Bioidentical hormone therapy, when used for the first time, has potential side effects as the body is not used to the new level of hormones. Most of these side effects are also linked to dosage, and it is advisable as your hormones improve, you adjust and in the case of further changes you should contact your physician. One should not confuse side effects with risks common to those who take hormones especially hormone therapy (HT). In older women, the consistent use of hormone therapy can lead to heart diseases and breast cancer while in other people mainly in a youthful state; risks are blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. Below are common side effects of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
• There is increased aggressiveness in both men and women during the first time of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but problems are resolved as levels become balanced
• There are side effects in women related to breast tenderness, cramping, bloating, and spotting in the body. This side effect is tied to the treatment of hormone estrogen, but it is resolved as hormones are balanced
• Patients commonly complain of itching and redness at the injections, but symptoms disappear as the body adjusts to treatment.
Are You Having HRT Side Effects?
As a woman ages, it is a given fact that she will be hitting her menopause some time in her mid forties. It is also a given that a number of physical and psychological changes accompany this event. Thinning hair, dry skin and wrinkles are some of the effects of menopause. But, what about men? Do they experience something similar?
According to many doctors, many men experience a number of symptoms that are directly associated with their age. As a practicing doctor in Dublin, Ireland put it, men too suffer from a list of problems peculiar to aging. This includes:
* Flailing energy levels
* Depleting sex drive
* Erectile dysfunction
* Increased fat in the midriff area
* Decreased muscle mass
* Falling strength
Before starting upon testosterone replacement therapy, men need to have their prostate examined. This particular examination, typically conducted by urologists is to understand the condition of the prostate gland which is prone to cancer. Whilst cancer of the prostate is very common and usually harmless, any kind of irregularities, hypertrophy, or even urinary complaints must be identified and dealt with prior to beginning testosterone treatment.
Specifically, men need a PSA (prostate gland specific antigen) blood-work test. If the test's values are found to be raised, then a PSA-2 test may be ordered that may determine prostatic hypertrophy. Androgenic hormone not an option in men diagnosed with prostate cancer because testosterone may well aggravate the condition.
Men should continue doing this prostate and PSA testing every 6 months after the commencement of Testosterone Replacement Therapy or as directed by their doctor.
Androgenic hormone or testosterone is secreted by the testes the entire day and is metabolized by heavy physical work and stress. It is therefore normal for doctors to order the blood be drawn in the morning when life's demands have not yet affected the body's level. Further, it is normal for the doctor to do 2 blood tests over a period of time to take an average reading.
Once it has been determined that a testosterone deficiency does in fact exist, and that there are no prostate cancer risks preventing replacement therapy, decisions can be made about what is the best way to administer the treatment.
Side Effects Of Bioidentical Hormones
Can menopause symptoms be safely comforted with bioidentical hormones? Recent research suggests that menopause can be treated with bioidentical hormones, a natural replacement for a woman's body, with no reported side effects.
In the past, menopause has been treated like a disease - primarily with Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT (including Premarin, which is made from pregnant mare's urine, Prempro and Provera), which meant ingesting synthetic chemicals on a regular basis. Now we know that these drugs are causing the very problems we're trying to avoid including breast cancer and heart attacks.
Bioidentical means the hormone molecule in the product, for example progesterone cream, acts exactly like the molecules produced by the female body. They function in your body in a natural and normal way unlike synthetic chemicals. A "natural hormone" is really a compound synthesized in the lab from a natural source (such as soybeans used for estrogens and testosterone; or wild Mexican yam in the case of progesterone and sometimes testosterone).
Synthetic hormones are typically only available in oral form, but bioidentical hormones come in a variety of delivery systems such as oral, transdermal patch, cream, lotion or sublingual drops. Bioidentical hormones recently caught mainstream attention in part because of Suzanne Somer's new book, The Sexy Years
Typically a successful approach to dealing with a woman's menopausal symptoms is to begin with laboratory tests of hormone levels called a "hormone panel." The doctor can then prescribe a precise dosage of bioidentical estrogens, testosterone or DHEA that can be made for you at a Compounding Pharmacy This is contrary to HRT treatments that are typically "one size fits all."
Most doctors prescribing bioidentical hormones find that a large percentage of women find some relief by using medical-grade supplements, over-the-counter bioidentical progesterone, and dietary and lifestyle changes (including the proper nutrition and exercise). And, for the percentage of women who need a little more help, most doctors don't support the idea that bioidentical hormones should be used indefinitely as some kind of fountain of youth.
Is it right for you to treat your menopause with bioidentical hormones? First you need to consult with a doctor to get the right answer for you. Once you know what you need, your doctor and you can work out the best alternative for your body.
Bioidentical Hormones - What Are They?
A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.
Risks associated with HRT
There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.
Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.
Hormone replacement therapy risks
- Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
- Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
- Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
- Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
- Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
- Higher risk of developing gall stones
Hormone replacement benefits
- Relief of menopause related complaints
- Increases bone density
- Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
- Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging
The side effects of HRT
Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.
- Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
- Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
- Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
- Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
- Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
- Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
- Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use
Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.
The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.
One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.