What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy? And why might someone need it?
BHRT stands for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and acts to restore your natural balance by mimicking your endogenous hormones. The hormones are derived from diosgenin (Mexican yams) and are an exact fit with our hormone receptors. Hormones themselves are essential for all bodily processes and need to be well balanced for optimal wellbeing, and appropriate stress response.
Our hormones are constantly evolving and imbalances can occur at any stage of our adult life. Generally speaking women or men over the age of 18 may find their hormones fluctuate and therefore may benefit from BHT. The majority of people aware of this treatment are women going through peri-menopause and menopause. However treatment is available for women who suffer from conditions like PCOS, PMS, post-natal depression and thyroid imbalances. Men can also benefit especially if they are going through andropause or a reduction in testosterone.
What are the key signs that hormones might be off-balance?
There are many! Physical symptoms include: hot flushes, night sweats, fatigue, lethargy, puffiness, bloating, weight gain, heavy periods, breast tenderness, headaches, migraine, insomnia, dry skin, acne, hair loss, incontinence, palpitations, recurrent cystitis. Emotional symptoms include: anxiety, depression, brain fog, poor concentration, low motivation, deeply emotional or weepy. Sexual symptoms include: low libido, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse. There are many symptoms so if you find that traditional treatments are not beneficial it may be worth undergoing hormonal evaluation to check if all is balanced as it should be.
What can you expect from treatment?
BHT consultations are very in-depth, they include a thorough medical history, symptom review and general examination including blood pressure and BMI assessment. Tests that we may recommend are dependent on what we believe your diagnoses may be related to. Most people will require blood tests that include hormonal profiles, thyroid function and vitamin d levels as these all affect our wellbeing. Some may also benefit from more specific investigations like pelvic ultrasound, mammogram, and bone density scans but your doctor can advise you on the specifics.
What form do BHTs come in and how long does it take to see results?
Treatment may be in the form of transdermal creams, gels, patches, oral tablets/capsules, lozenges, pessaries and (rarely) implants and injections. Typically most people start to see results within a few weeks of commencing treatment however, for some it can take up to 3 months. We aim to use the lowest possible dose for optimal wellbeing and hormonal balance and you can come off treatment at any stage should you wish to. It is important to continue using separate contraception if you are of child-bearing age as hormones will not prevent pregnancy.
Are there any downsides or things to consider for having treatment?
Treatment is contraindicated in certain individuals such as those with a family history of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots including dvt and pe. Few people may experience slight side effects when initially starting the treatment, this may include breast tenderness, vaginal spotting, skin changes and low mood. These are usually short lived as the hormones are made specifically for you and can be adjusted if necessary. The treatment itself is individually tailored and we review patients regularly to ensure their symptoms are adequately controlled using the lowest doses of hormone treatment. We may also advise other supplements such as omega 3, b vitamins, vitamin d and magnesium to name a few.
To book to see Dr. Paris or to find out more about the treatments on offer at Waterhouse Young.