Millions of men and women reach a stage in their lives where their sex hormone production plummets. This natural decline typically happens when you reach your 50s, but can occur in your 40s and sometimes earlier. You may feel tired, fuzzy and not quite like yourself without realizing that your hormones are playing tricks on you. Bioidentical hormone replacement is effective at alleviating symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Unlike conventional hormone replacement that uses synthetic or animal-derived hormones that are slightly different from the ones your body makes, bioidentical hormones are the same biochemically. If you have a hormonal imbalance, it’s only natural to wonder if bioidentical hormone replacement is right for you. Our experts explain why you may want to consider it.
What is bioidentical hormone replacement?
Not to be confused with the term ‘natural,’ which is commonly used to describe hormones from natural sources like plants or animals, bioidentical means that your body is unable to tell the difference between the hormone you’re replacing and the hormone it makes naturally because its structure is identical. We believe that replacing the hormones your body no longer makes with identical hormones provides an advantage over conventional hormone replacement therapy.
Bioidentical hormone replacement for women
In the United States, the average age of menopause is 52. However, women may experience symptoms several years before their ovaries cease sex hormone production. Each year roughly two million women go through menopause, and it’s estimated that 75% of them experience moderate-to-severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. The most common symptoms reported include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Trouble sleeping
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Reduced bone mass
In the past, dealing with these symptoms was considered a rite of passage that women were expected to experience. Today, however, we know that suffering at the hands of Mother Nature is unnecessary and that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the most effective option for treating menopausal symptoms.
Bioidentical hormone therapy for men
Like women, male sex hormone production declines with age. When levels become too low, you may experience troublesome symptoms, including:
- Decreased muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal breast growth
- Weak bones
- problems concentrating
If you have these symptoms, you may chalk it up to stress or getting older, not realizing it’s your hormones. Some men envision testosterone deficiency happening to much older men. The truth is, hypogonadism is more prevalent than you think. In population-based studies, nearly 40% of men 45 and over had low testosterone. What’s more, only about 10% of them are being treated with hormone restoration.
Hormone deficiency causes health risks
It’s important to know that symptoms associated with hormone deficiency aren’t just daily annoyances that you have to learn to live with. Hormone imbalance can lead to serious health consequences.
Sex hormones play a substantial role in keeping your bones strong and healthy by reducing bone breakdown. Deficiency in both males and females increases the risk of bone loss and can lead to osteoporosis. Hormones also play a role in proving some protection against heart disease and obesity. If left untreated, your risk for these health problems increases.
Testing your hormone balance
Blood testing is the only way to know which hormones are out of balance. When you visit the team at Arlington Family Practice, they will carefully evaluate your hormone levels and rule out other causes of hormone imbalance. They may test your testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Ideal levels are based on a number of factors, including your age. If your hormones levels are insufficient, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can restore them to normal levels.
The decision to start bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is one you make with your doctor after careful consideration of the benefits and potential risks. To learn more, call our office and speak with our knowledgeable staff, or book an appointment online today. Our offices are conveniently located near you in Arlington, Massachusetts.