Potential Benefits of Hormone Replacement
Hormones are an integral component of the overall balance in the human body. They are probably more associated with the quality of life as it relates to the “little things” than any other system in the body. These “little things” can make a person’s daily existence miserable as well as the people around them. Hormones help prevent or reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability. They help protect against heart disease, decrease bone loss and hip fractures, improve blood flow, raise good (HDL) cholesterol, and enhance healthy functioning of internal organs. Hormones promote a sense of well being, increased energy, improve short term memory, and prevent age related memory loss. Sleep is improved by hormones and they help prevent vaginal dryness and reduce the recurring urinary track infections. And to illustrate that this is not new knowledge, the Egyptians knew and used hormone creams to improve elasticity of the skin and thus produce a more youthful glow to the skin.
Potential Risks of Hormone Replacement
Risk in using hormone supplementation is dependent on a number of factors such as: age, family history, lifestyle habits, exposure to estrogen before menopause, unexplained vaginal bleeding, and present health status. Women with bladder problems, diabetes, fibroids, and previous cancers should discuss all risk factors with their doctors to evaluate the risk of not having hormones to that of supplementation.
What are Natural or Bio-Identical Hormones?
Bio-identical hormones have the same chemical structure of the hormones found naturally in the human body. Bio-Identical hormones are chemically processed from soybeans and Mexican yams.
Synthetic hormones patented by drug manufacturers are produced from ingredients, such as the urine of a pregnant horse, and then are altered chemically so that the resulting product can be protected by the patent. Natural comes from nature and cannot be patented.
The decision to pursue hormone replacement therapy, natural or synthetic, can often be a difficult one. The key is to ask questions and know your options. Your body is your responsibility and you should make choices based on knowledge. Work with health care professionals who specialize in midlife and menopause issues. Once you make the choice you must commit yourself to fully understanding and participating to achieve the maximum results.
Why use Bio-Identical Natural Hormones?
The body utilizes a “hormonal cascade” in the breakdown of hormones. This cascade is a series of chemical reactions that results in the metabolites or hormones that the body needs. Bio-Identical hormones follow the body’s natural reactions resulting in the same metabolites as previously produced when the body was secreting its own hormones. Synthetic hormones, chemical with their altered structures, do not follow the natural cascade and produce different metabolites or just do not stop production. Another benefit of using bio-identical hormones is that natural preparations can be compounded to match more closely the hormone ratios your body needs. The flexibility in dosing and the modes of administration are what allow compounded bio-identical hormones to be customized to your individual needs. Hormones can be compounded in a variety of ways, alone or in combination, and in the following forms: sustained released capsules, topical creams and gels, vaginal suppositories, sublingual troches/lozenges, and sublingual drops.
Estrogens – Estriol, Estradiol, and Estrone. These estrogens can be used as a single agent or combined with each other. They alleviate hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, and mood swings.
Progesterone – Progesterone can alleviate symptoms associated with menopause such as fatigue, headaches, irregular menstruation, and can also improve sleeping and may increase bone density.
Testosterone – Generally, testosterone is used for enhancing libido, energy, and bone density. Testosterone is also used for improving muscle tone.. It also may be important in the maintenance of the heart.
Getting Started with Bio-Identical Hormones
A doctor’s prescription is required to receive bio-identical hormones. It is a good idea to ask you doctor about his working with you and the compounding pharmacist on your natural hormone therapy before proceeding. If he or she is unwilling and you still want to pursue such a program, we may be able to help you in securing a physician to participate.
Insurance is another area that must be considered. Most insurance companies will reimburse for the actual hormone prescriptions, but will not pay for any of the other charges associated with a Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) program. Such charges include saliva testing, pharmacist consultation, and supplements. Since bio-identical hormones are compounded from raw ingredients that are FDA approved, but do not have National Drug Code (NDC) numbers that can be issued legally only by the FDA, we cannot submit claims by computer. You will be provided with a universal claim form for a compounded medication with all the required information for you to submit to your insurance carrier for reimbursement.
Prescription costs average $31.00 per prescription per month. The number of prescriptions will depend on your hormonal needs. Since we say that woman are like “snowflakes,” and no two are alike, there is no way to predict how many and what strength until you have completed the initial steps of the program.
The initial steps are:
(1) completing a confidential hormone evaluation form
(2) submitting a five hormone saliva test
(3) participating in a pharmacist consultation session
(4) having a zinc deficiency test
(5) having your glucose level checked
(6) having a composite cholesterol test
(7) having a blood pressure reading
(8) having a bone density test
(9) having a nutraceutical workup
The cost for the initial program is $250.00.
Please call Burt Patterson of Patterson's Pharmacy and Compounding Center at (228) 875-0158 to make an appointment to begin the program or to have any of your questions answered.