Bioidentical Hormones for Women
Many women experience hormonal changes as they age and bioidentical hormones can provide relief from symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. However, hormonal imbalances can also occur in women who are in their childbearing years. Other factors can disrupt balance such as diet, lifestyle, pregnancy, a full or partial hysterectomy, illness, stress, and even some medications.
Hormones are chemical messengers that affect just about every physiological process in the body. They also work synergistically with each other, so if one hormone level is not optimal, others hormones can be affected.
Restoring hormonal balance has many positive health benefits, in addition to providing relief from symptoms. Dr. Scott and Nurse Practitioners Elise Lewis and Sue Miller offer extensive laboratory testing to specifically identify which hormones for women might need balancing. This testing also looks at other health markers which provide a whole-body picture so that optimal hormone balance can be achieved. They will prescribe bioidentical hormones that are produced to exacting standards in qualified compounding pharmacies. These products are designed to mirror the hormones produced by the body.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
If hormones are optimally balanced, you should be sleeping well, have energy, and have a strong immune system. Your sex drive should be healthy, periods should be regular (for those of childbearing age), and outlook should be positive.
Imbalanced hormones can produce many symptoms, both physical and psychological. We use bioidentical hormones and supplementation to help restore women to an optimal state of health, but other factors can affect how well hormones work too. Imbalances don’t usually happen suddenly; they are often the result of cumulative effects of physiological stressors which compromise overall health as well as the endocrine system.
Stress isn’t just mental or emotional, it’s also physical. For example, a poor diet can have adverse effects on the body. You may not feel it at first but, over months or years, your mind and body will slowly start to decline, which can leave you with a compromised immune system making you more vulnerable to disease and premature aging.
Bioidentical hormones for women, along with a healthy diet, exercise and good sleep habits, can greatly assist the body in returning to a more healthful state.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalances
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Loss of muscle mass/increased fat mass
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Inability to sleep
- Inability to think clearly or focus
- Memory problems
- Anxiety and depression
- Irritability and moodiness
- Hair loss
- Hair growth in unwanted places such as the face
- Food cravings
- Joint inflammation
- Muscle aches and pains
- Higher risk for endometrial cancer
- Estrogen dominance
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Vaginal dryness
- Increased frequency of vaginal infections and/or UTIs
- Painful sex
- High cholesterol
- Sagging and/or thin skin
- Increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Increased inflammation
- Digestive issues
Hormones and Their Role in the Female Body
Estrogen is one of the three sex hormones for women. It stimulates growth of tissue such as breast development and the uterine wall. It is mainly produced in the ovaries through estrone, a weaker form of estrogen. Estrogen affects sleep quality/quantity, mood, libido, memory, and focus. It also helps to preserve bone mass. Taking bioidentical hormones can prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis and drastically slow the progression of an existing condition. It also helps to increase HDL, the good cholesterol. Some studies have shown that estrogen depletion can contribute to metabolic diseases, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
It also helps to maintains collagen which affects the elasticity of skin and hair growth. As well, estrogen plays a role in the health of the vagina by preventing thinning of the wall and lubricating tissue. For childbearing women, estrogen stimulates growth of the egg follicle and increases and maintains the mucous membrane that lines the uterus wall.
Progesterone acts as the “protector” and has a calming effect on the mind and body. When balancing hormones for women, it’s important to maintain the correct ratio between estrogen and progesterone. Adequate amounts of progesterone are vital for sleep quality. It is produced mainly in the ovaries, but also in the adrenal glands. For menopausal women who have adrenal fatigue, this hormone can be almost nonexistent without bioidentical hormone replacement. Depleted amounts of progesterone also affect mood and can cause increased anxiety and/or depression.
It also prevents overgrowth of cells and shields against nerve damage. For women in their childbearing years it helps to get the uterus ready for pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus to allow for hospitable conditions for the egg to grow. Progesterone also affects metabolism as it contributes to use of fat for energy. Additionally, it helps block plaque from forming on arterial walls and lowers triglycerides. It’s essential for helping to build bone. Progesterone is also important to proper function of the thyroid gland.
Progesterone complements estrogen and it’s important to have a proper ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Otherwise, if this ratio gets out of balance it can cause a condition called estrogen dominance to occur which can cause fertility problems, endometriosis, fibroids, weight gain, and even endometrial cancers.
In fact, studies have shown that post-menopausal women who are only taking estrogen are 80% more likely to develop endometrial cancer compared to women who take both estrogen and progesterone. Studies have also shown that progesterone is not just a sex hormone, but is also a “neuro-steroid” which plays an important part of brain function.
While we often think of testosterone as masculine, it’s also a sex hormone for women, although in much lower levels than for men. Healthy testosterone levels help with muscle mass and fat distribution and help maintain bone mass. It affects libido and fertility as well. Testosterone deficiencies result in feeling sluggish, generalized fatigue, low mood, impaired sleep, and weight gain. Imbalances can cause a poor tolerance for exercise and a lack of motivation. Some women have too much testosterone which can cause symptoms such as acne, hair loss on the head, unwanted hair on other parts of the body, and infertility. So ensuring this is properly balanced is important.
Other Hormones for Women
When undergoing our bioidentical hormone replacement program, we will check other hormone functions as well, since all of the hormones in the body work synergistically with each other and are the key to proper hormonal balance for women. These include:
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
- T3 (thyroid)
- T4 (thyroid)
- Free T3 (thyroid)
- Thyroid antibodies
- Luteinizing hormone
Additionally, we will check levels of Vitamin D3, B12/Folate, and Magnesium since adequate amounts are crucial to optimal hormonal function and overall health. Other health markers will also be checked.
Bioidentical Hormones and Anti-Aging Services
The process of aging causes all individuals, regardless of sex, to experience varied and unique symptoms as their hormone levels change over time. Perimenopause (the transition from child bearing years to menopause) and menopause usually occur gradually. However, if a woman has a hysterectomy, symptoms can come on quite suddenly. If the ovaries are not removed, their function will still decrease more quickly because removal of the fallopian tubes can interrupt their blood supply. If the ovaries are removed during the hysterectomy, menopausal symptoms can be much more severe.
The proper way to address this is through an integrated, personalized, comprehensive, and regularly monitored program like the one that we offer for bioidentical hormone replacement for women. Our system incorporates laboratory testing, provider consultation, comprehensive health assessment, medically proven supplements, and professionally compounded bioidentical hormones tailored for your individual needs.
We want you to remain healthy and maintain the optimal balance of all things necessary to assure you that your overall wellness is the best it can possibly be. Our program relies on the expertise of our providers. They will use their training and experience to help you make the best decisions regarding diet, exercise, stress management, hormone balance, and pharmaceutical grade supplements as you work to achieve optimum physical and mental health so that you can lead the active and productive lifestyle that you desire!
The effects of aging and hormone imbalance can be counterbalanced with the right tools, medical guidance, and lifestyle changes. With the assistance of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for women and proper nutrition, we work with you to sustain a lifetime of wellness.
Nutrition for Women
Nutritional supplements are offered as an adjunct to dietary and lifestyle modification. We offer therapeutic, high quality nutritional supplements as a service to our patients. Technically, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and amino acids are not classified as drugs. However, they can have significant effects on physiology and must be used rationally. Our providers offer nutritional counseling and make individualized recommendations regarding use of these substances in order to upgrade the quality of foods in a patient’s diet and to supply nutrition to support the physiological processes of the body.
We use pharmaceutical grade supplements in the office to ensure quality, however we do not require that you purchase them from us. You may not be guaranteed the same level of quality or absorption rate. We are not suggesting that other products have no value; however, given the lack of stringent testing requirements for dietary supplements, product quality varies widely.
Supplements commonly used with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy for Women
- Vitamin D3 – While the skin makes Vitamin D3 from sunlight, many things affect absorption such as time of day, seasons, shade of skin (darker skin requires more sun), and sunscreen use. Low-cholesterol diets and certain cholesterol therapies can inhibit Vitamin D formation. Research shows that optimal serum levels of Vitamin D3 support normal cell differentiation, cardiovascular health, immune function, mood, cognitive health, and bone and dental health.
- Vitamin B Complex – Supports adrenal and neurological functions such as mood and ability to cope with stress. Your supplement should contain activated forms of B2, B6, and B12.
- CoQ10 – This plays a major role in energy production and antioxidant protection in the body. It supports health and function of the cardiovascular system as well as the health of the neuromuscular and central nervous systems.
- NiaVasc (Niacin) – This is one of the most studied and documented nutrients for support of lipid levels already within the normal range and can help to bring high lipids back into the normal range. Sustained-release niacin has a lesser flushing effect compared with instant release niacin.
- Omega Fish Oils – Omega 3s that are found in fish oils have been shown to support cardiovascular health, joint tissue health, and healthy brain and nervous system function. Our enteric-coated soft gels support compliance and absorption.
- Bone Support – Bone health is dependent on a constant supply of micronutrients for maintenance and repair. Instead of adopting a single-nutrient approach to supplementation, we utilize an array of complementary, well researched nutrients in its OSAplex formulas to build and maintain bone over time.
- Magnesium – The fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, magnesium plays a role in over 300 metabolic processes. It participates in the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, and the maintenance of bones and teeth. Additionally it helps to maintain the metabolism of carbohydrates, blood glucose, fats, the formation of cells and tissues, and the maintenance of muscle function to include the cardiac muscle. Magnesium is a great symptom relief for leg cramps, constipation, and promoting calmness and relaxation.
Gut Health and Hormones
More and more studies are showing how important gut health is to overall health. It is estimated that 70% – 80% of the immune system resides in the gut microbiome. When you have a strong immune system, it doesn’t just protect you against acute conditions such as the flu. It also protects you from autoimmune conditions, chronic diseases, and even cancer and cardiovascular risk. Studies have also shown that gut health has a direct effect on how the endocrine system functions.
If the microbiome is out of balance, your hormones will not completely return to a state of homeostasis even with bioidentical hormone balance for women.
Balancing the beneficial microbial flora in the gut is key to digestion, nutrient usage, and ridding the body of waste and pathogens. Keeping the beneficial and harmful bacteria balanced in your GI tract can rid you of conditions such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Gluten sensitivity
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Joint pain
- Weight issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Acid reflux/Heartburn
- Auto-immune disease
- Insulin resistance
- Imbalanced hormones
- And more
Gut Health Testing
Our providers are experts in nutrition and gut health. We offer the following scientific tests to help our patients improve their gut health, overall health, and reduce the risk for chronic disease:
- NutrEval™ – This test identifies issues with nutrient absorption and can be helpful in determining which types of nutrients you are deficient in. Our providers can also provide guidance to improve areas of depletion regarding diet and/or supplementation.
- ALCAT™ – The ALCAT is a food sensitivity test and provides you with a list of the foods that you are sensitive or allergic to.
- Genova GI Effects™ – This stool test gives you data regarding your current state of digestive function, gut inflammation, and the health of your microbiome so that you will know what steps to take in order to be healthier and reduce your risk for disease.
For more information on the Gut – Hormone connection, click HERE.
Contact our New Patient Coordinator for more information
Feel free to contact our New Patient Coordinator who is happy to answer any questions and explain more about program. If you would like to book an appointment, she can also help you with this.
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