Bioidentical Hormone Therapy FAQs
What are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plant estrogens that are biologically, structurally, and chemically identical to your body’s natural hormones. The term “bioidentical” means that the hormones are chemically identical to those that your body produces. Their molecular shape is identical to hormones produced by the human body and more naturally accepted by a man or woman’s receptor cells.
What is the difference between Bioidentical and Synthetic Hormones?
Although both are created in labs, synthetic hormones are not identical to the hormones naturally created in your body and their use can lead to adverse side effects.
Doctors became concerned about the side effects of synthetic hormones, and in 1991, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) to define the risks and benefits of using synthetic hormone therapy to potentially prevent heart disease, stroke, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The results of their studies indicated that the risk of synthetic hormone replacement therapies far outweighed the benefits.
An important point to consider is that the women in the NIH trial group were postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years. This is significant to note because most of these women were 15 to 20 years into menopause, without the hormones to protect the body from the diseases that bioidentical hormones might have prevented. Click here to read about this study and for a list of additional studies completed regarding the use of synthetic hormones.
The reaction to the NIH studies led doctors to turn away from synthetic hormones back to bioidentical hormone therapy, which has been in practice since the 1930s. Research continues to substantiate that bioidentical hormones are safe and offer health benefits to men and women as they age.
Is bioidentical hormone therapy approved by the FDA?
The ingredients in bioidentical hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all approved by the FDA. Bioidentical hormones are legal to prescribe and use in the US, although the FDA has not given its specific approval. The lack of FDA approval is because there are no official placebo-controlled studies to prove whether bioidentical hormones are safer than standard hormone replacement therapy.
Are bioidentical hormones safe for everyone?
Certain men and women should not undergo hormone replacement therapy depending on their health history. You are not a candidate for bioidentical therapy if you have a personal history of breast cancer or stroke or if you have had a blood clot.
Doctors have been safely prescribing bioidentical hormones to men and women for decades. Well-known medical journals and researchers have reported that the bioidentical hormones, estrogen, and testosterone, are not only safe but also have a preventative effect on diseases like osteoporosis and prostate cancer.
Why should I use bioidentical hormones?
Over the last 100 years, we have increased our life expectancy and the demand on our body to produce hormones to support our longevity. In addition, our sedentary stressful lives, our increasingly poor nutrition, and the lack of proper fitness deplete the hormones in our bodies. Our bodies need the support that bioidentical hormones offer in replacing the natural hormones that have declined as our bodies age.
When should I consider bioidentical hormone therapy?
In general, your body’s hormones begin to decline in your thirties. Here at North Texas Vitality, we recommend being proactive and setting an appointment with us by age 40 or earlier, if a patient is experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or andropause.
Dr. Fliedner believes the best way to prevent chronic illness and to optimize health is to take an active role in addressing healthcare risks before they become a problem. We partner with our patients by starting early and establishing a baseline of good health. Over time we refer to that baseline to manage healthy hormonal balance with personalized bioidentical hormone therapy. This ensures that our patients maintain a vital, healthy lifestyle in spite of age.
What are the signs of hormonal imbalance?
Men experiencing low testosterone (or hypogonadism) may experience reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, or enlarged or swollen breast tissue. Other signs include loss of body hair, loss of muscle mass, loss of strength, and increased body fat. For more information read our article about the 6 Benefits of HRT for Men.
Women may begin to suffer ill effects such as hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, mood swings, depression, anxiety, memory loss, vaginal dryness, fatigue, loss of your sex drive, and even weight gain. Learn the signs at Perimenopause Symptoms & Treatments.
Will I need blood tests?
Yes. Dr. Fliedner will review your medical history and run advanced lab tests to determine your hormone levels. Upon receiving lab results, Dr. Fliedner will develop a custom hormone therapy to replace just what your body is missing.
What are the different delivery methods of BHRT?
Dr. Fliedner offers several ways to deliver bioidentical hormones to accommodate our patient’s comfort level.
- Capsules: The hormone compound is delivered orally in a capsule.
- Creams: The hormone compound is rubbed directly onto the skin and absorbed into the system.
- Pellets: The hormone compound is delivered through tiny pellets inserted under the skin
Are there any side effects of bioidentical hormone therapy?
Because bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as the hormones made naturally by your body, there are relatively few side effects. Side effects occur mainly when the dosage of hormones is too high for the individual. Both Dr. Fliedner and his assistant Cheryl monitor and evaluate each patient consistently to assure hormonal balance and proper dosing.
Can estrogen or progesterone increase my risk for disease?
No, not in most cases. During your first visit with Dr. Fliedner, he will document your medical history before prescribing any hormones. Not all estrogens affect women in the same way, and fears of increased risks of heart disease and breast cancer with estrogen therapy have mainly come from the Women’s Health Initiative study from 1991.
This study actually highlights the risks of estrogen therapy with non-bioidentical (synthetic) hormones, which is NOT what we prescribe at North Texas Vitality. The risks of synthetic progestins were also highlighted in this study. Hormones that are non-bioidentical use a one-size-fits-all approach to hormone therapy with hormones that are foreign to the human body.
When in the hands of an educated provider, such as Dr. Fliedner, bioidentical hormones have been proven to improve health. See our article, “BHRT Pellets Decrease Breast Cancer.”
How soon will I see the results of BHRT?
You will see improvement within the first two to three weeks of therapy, but it will take up to eight weeks to feel the full effect.
While it varies with each person and depends on which hormone therapy Dr. Fliedner prescribes, you can expect to see results within the first two to three weeks, and within three to six months your body will be experiencing the full benefits. Plan on waiting through this amount of time to allow for the proper balancing of your hormones.
Do I need to take hormones forever?
Not necessarily. It depends on how well your body responds to the hormones. When working with Dr. Fliedner and his staff, you will learn how important it is to manage your diet, sleep patterns, exercise, and stress levels. Managing these areas of your life will also improve your hormonal balance.
With our consistent monitoring of our patients’ hormonal levels, many patients achieve hormonal balance and no longer need certain hormonal therapies; or their adrenals and thyroid glands have healed, and they no longer need adrenal and thyroid support. It varies with each of our patients.
What you don’t want to do is to stop bioidentical hormone therapy abruptly without achieving its full results.
Does treatment affect my current prescriptions?
Generally, no. Bioidentical hormone therapy restores many systems in your body, and you may discover that you no longer need some of the long-term medicines you have been taking.
Are birth control pills considered to be hormone therapy?
Yes, birth control pills are a type of hormone therapy but are different from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Birth control pill hormones are synthetic hormones and have a different chemical structure than that of the body’s natural hormones.
Why don’t all doctors prescribe BHRT?
Traditional doctors often do not have the time or the resources to seek expertise in bioidentical hormones. Many of them have antiquated opinions about hormones based on the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study on synthetic hormones and have not stayed up to date on the studies of bioidentical hormones. Dr. Fliedner and his staff have achieved extensive training in bioidentical hormone therapy and have specialized knowledge and interest in this field of medicine.
Does hormone therapy help reduce stress?
Imbalanced hormones can increase an individual’s stress levels. Regulating hormones with bioidentical hormone therapy will certainly help to decrease stress levels and increase general feelings of wellbeing. Improving diet, sleep habits, and exercise can also help to ease the effects of stress.
Will hormone therapy improve my sex drive?
Yes. A deficiency in testosterone, estrogen, and other types of hormonal imbalance can cause low libido.
Can hormone therapy help me lose weight?
Absolutely. Read our article Hormone Replacement Therapy and Weight Loss. If you are gaining weight and have difficulty taking it off, you should know that hormonal imbalances affect weight loss and weight gain. Without proper hormone balance, it can become nearly impossible to lose weight!
Which hormone imbalances can prevent weight loss?
- Insulin Resistance
- Thyroid Imbalance
- Cortisol/Melatonin Imbalances
- Testosterone Imbalance
- Estrogen Imbalance
In addition to circumstances where hormones affect weight loss, other contributing factors can impede weight loss, such as Candida and sleep deprivation.
Will my insurance cover bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Insurance companies do not pay for bioidentical hormones because they are not FDA-approved. Your insurance will cover issues related to under-active thyroid problems.
Do you also prescribe vitamins and supplements?
Under the managed care of Dr. Fliedner, we may prescribe vitamins and supplements to improve your health and hormonal balance. We only prescribe pharmaceutical-grade vitamins and supplements for maximum absorbency.
We Can Help
At North Texas Vitality, we begin our appointment by getting to know you – your medical history, your current state of health, and any troubling symptoms or concerns. We combine this knowledge with comprehensive lab testing to provide you with the answers you need. We carefully explain your lab results and will offer the best treatment protocol to help you begin healing and feeling better.
For more information, call our office at 469-455-1665 or request an appointment.