What You Need To Know About Hormones
HORMONES IN GENERAL:
- Are hormones just for women?
- When should I consider hormone support?
- I’m confused, what are the different types of hormones and which ones are synthetic and which ones are natural?
- What are custom compounded hormones?
- What is the difference between Over-the-Counter (OTC) herbal products and HIHS/BHRT?
- Can I get HIHS/BHRT anywhere?
HORMONES IN GENERAL:
What happens to our hormones as we age?
Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and have an impact on every cell in the body, acting as the brain’s messengers, telling the body’s internal organs how to function. Beginning around the age of 30 hormones start to drop by by 1% to 3% each year, contributing to a number of symptoms and a slow, steady change in health & vitality. (1)(2)(3)(4)(5) For women, progesterone decline accelerates at about age 35 and it is estimated that by the time a woman is 45-50, she will have an 80% reduction in progesterone. Progesterone decline is associated with many PMS and Peri-menopausal symptoms and is one of the easiest and safest hormones to support. Estrogen declines at a more rapid speed for women around the age of 40-50. For men, the prevalence of low testosterone ( total testosterone less than 300 ng/dl) is as high as 38.7% in males over 45. (5) When hormone levels decline in women, women often gain weight in the belly, hips and thighs, have difficulties with memory and feel they have lost their “glow”. When hormone levels decline in men, men often gain weight in the belly and chest area, have difficulties with memory and begin to lose interest in life’s daily activities. Box sexes can have a reduced ability to sleep well and feel like they are losing their joie du vive. As weight increases, hormones are stored in fat, and become unavailable to meet the body’s demands.
In addition as our hormones decline compounded with nutritional deficiencies, many diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar imbalances, and osteoporosis increase while our quality of life decreases.
(1) Morgentaler, Abraham, Testosterone for Life: Recharge your vitality, sex drive, muscle mass and overall health.
(2) Sommers, Suzanne, Sexy Forever; Breakthrough: 8 Steps to Wellness; Ageless: The naked truth about bio-identical hormones
(3) Schwartz, M.D., The Hormone Solution: Naturally alleviate symptoms of hormone Imbalance from adolescence through menopause
(4) Feldman HA, Longcope C, Derby CA, et al, Age trends in the level of serum testosterone and other hormones in middle-aged men; longitudinal results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Clin. Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87:589-598
(5) Mulligan T, Frick M, Zuraw Q, et al. Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. Int. J. Clin. Pract. 2006;60:762-9
Why are hormones important in the aging process?
Research shows that menopausal hormone therapy is associated with a 40% reduction in mortality in women who are below the age of 60 or who use hormone support within 10 years of beginning menopause. (1) When women experience uncomfortable menopausal symptoms: work productivity has been shown to be reduced by 10-15 %, sick days increased by 23% and health related costs increased by 40%.(2) Opting for healthier lifestyle choices and restoring hormone balance helps hormone-deficient adults regain a balanced, healthy endocrinological state so their bodies function to their best potential.(3)(4)(5) Researchers now believe that hormone decline is actually a major cause of aging.
(1)Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. JCEM July 1, 2010 vol. 95 no.7 Supplement 1
(2)Kleinman et al, JOEM 55, 465-470, 2013
(3)Gordon, Mark, M.D., Endocrinologist | Millennium Health Centers, Inc. | www.millenniumhealthcenters.com
(4)Sangetta, Pati, M.D. | SaJune Institute for Restorative & Regenerative Medicine| www.sajune.com
(5)Schwartz, Erika, M.D. | The Age Management Institute| www.derika.com
Are hormones just for women?
Although the most popular use is with women, both men and women experience a decline in hormones and thus can benefit from hormone support.
When should I consider hormone support?
There is a spectrum of support that can be offered for hormonal imbalances beginning with dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs. However, there are times when it is also important to add Human Identical Hormone Support (HIHS) or Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy( BHRT).
If you are going through the natural aging process but feeling less than at your best, if you notice a change in how you feel monthly or you want to reduce your risk of certain hormone associated lifestyle diseases, it is ideal for you to consider being evaluated for hormones and what approach is right for you.
What symptoms may be related to a hormone imbalance?
Symptoms can include but are not limited to: difficult menopause, PMS and painful periods, irregular periods, fertility issues, adult acne, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, abnormal hair growth, weight gain, muscle loss, insomnia, decreased libido, fatigue, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction, bone loss, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, etc. Men can experience much of the above as well as erectile dysfunction.
Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency for Women:
- Irritability, Anxiety, Mild Depression, Insomnia
- Swelling, Breast Tenderness
- PMS: Painful Periods, Endometreosis, Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts
- Reduced Muscle Mass
- Osteopenia, Osteoporosis
- Decreased Libido
- Poor Recovery From Exercise
Common Symptoms of Estrogen Deficiency for Women:
- Mild Depression and /or a Feeling of “Just Don’t Care”
- Dryness: Skin, Eyes
- Foggy Thinking ( especially in the morning)
- Mental Confusion
- Breasts Lose Fullness and /or Begin Drooping
Common Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency for Men & Women:
- Loss of Confidence and /or Depression
- Loss of Muscle Mass (Sarcopenia), Decreased Strength & Physical Performance
- Decreased Bone Density
- Central Obesity
- Insulin Resistance
- Reduce Libido
- Erectile Dysfunction (Men)
Common Symptoms of Thyroid Imbalance:
- Weight & Metabolism Changes
- Body Temperature Imbalance: Cold ( Basal Body Temperature < 98.6°F) or Hot
- Dry Hair, Skin , or Nails ( Thin)
- Loss of Hair ( Lateral Margin of Eyebrows)
- Water Retention
- Depression or Anxiety
- Muscle Aches/ Headaches
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Heavy periods
How is my hormonal imbalance diagnosed?
A combination of history, physical exam, lab tests including: blood tests, urine tests and salivary when indicated help your hormone doctor diagnose your hormonal imbalance. In this the relationships that exist in the body encompassing you as a whole person are integrated to help find your best solutions.
I’m confused, what are the different types of hormones and which ones are synthetic and which ones are natural?
You are certainly not alone! In a nut shell,
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the first type of hormones that were used historically for hormone support. HRT hormones are synthetic
Synthetic Hormones: means that they have been pharmaceutically manufactured with a chemical structure that is foreign to the human body ( not biochemically similar to our own natural hormones in our body) but mimics some hormonal activity. These chemical differences can mean that synthetic hormones can act differently in your body and produce substantially different effects.
Bio-identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) is the popular next label for the generation of hormone support, which are naturally derived and are an exact replica of the hormones that are naturally produced by the body. Thus, the difference between bio-identical and synthetic hormones is that , although both are created in labs, synthetic hormones are not identical to the hormones naturally created in your body and bio-identical hormones match your body’s hormones molecule by molecule.
Human Identical Hormone Supplementation ( HIHS) is the use of supplemental doses of hormones that have a chemical structure identical to the ones the human body produces. Common terms when referring to human identical hormones include: is also commonly known as: Natural, Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), Biologically Identical, and Plant Based Hormones. Plants provide the basis or source for human identical hormones. These plant-based ( phyto-hormones) are chemically altered to precisely mirror the structure of human hormones, making them become “ human-identical’. For example, human identical progesterone and estrogen can be created from chemically altered forms of naturally occuring phyto-hormones found in the Mexican wild yam, soy , and other plants. All sex hormones and coritsol are available in human identical forms.
Both Bio-identical and Human Identical Hormones are available in standardized (FDA or government approved) or custom compounded formulas.
What are the principles of Human Identical Hormone Support (HIHS) or Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement ( BHRT)?
HIHS or BHRT is based on the principle that hormone replacement should be as natural as possible, and as close to your own hormones for optimal function. The hormones thus are chemically identical to your own hormones, are administered at the right time of the day, in the format that gives optimal absorption, poses the least risk and in the correct proportions relative to other hormones.
What hormones are typically replaced in the Revivelife™ Hormone Optimization Program (HOP)?
Each person is individual and needs a proper diagnosis according to how a person feels and the lab tests that are evaluated. Then support maybe needed for Stress Hormones: including Cortisol, DHEA, and Pregnenalone; Sex Hormones: including progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone ( yes women need Testosterone as well) and Thyroid Hormone. Some people need only one hormone supported while others may need all of them to get the full benefit of hormone optimization.
What are the types of synthetic hormones? And what are the risks?
Some of the more common types of synthetic hormones include: Estrogens ( Premarin, Cenestin, Menest, OrthoEst, EstraTab); Progesterones ( progestins) ( Provera, Aygestin, DepoProvera, certain birth control pills); Combinations ( EstraTest, Activella, PremPRo, PremPhase, CombiPatch, ClimaraPro, FemHRT, many hormonal birth control methods), Testosterone ( MethylTestosterone)
According to the FDA, for some women, synthetic hormone therapy may increase the chances of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer and gall bladder disease. For women who have not had their uteruses removed, estrogen increases their chance of getting endometrial cancer. Adding progestin, however, lowers this risk.
How are synthetic hormones created? The most common forms of synthetic hormones consist of mixtures of urine from pregnant mares, known as conjugated equine estrogens (CEE), and progestin. Those synthetic treatments most commonly prescribed are made by pharmaceutical companies that have proprietary claims on drugs. For example Premarin ( synthetic estrogen) and Provera ( synthetic progesterone) , were the medications studied in the Women’s Health Initiative ( WHI) which are not bio-chemically like estrogen and progesterone, we are however often lead to believe that they are the same. Premarin is in fact made from pregnant horses, which contains a number of chemicals that are not found in humans, and is much stronger than human estrogen. Premarin stimulates the lining of the uterus, increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Provera or medroxyprogesterone, can be related to increase blood clots and breast cancer. When these synthetic hormones are taken by mouth ( vs produced by the ovaries as what the body naturally does), they enter the digestive system and then travel to the liver, which starts to digest them. The partly digested by-products of Premarin and Provera have never been properly studied, yet they are highly likely to be responsible for the toxic effects. The WHI which studied these synthetic hormones showed that they do not behave like human hormones and pose significant risk.
What are custom compounded hormones versus government or FDA approved?
Custom compounded hormones are formulated for each individual according to the prescription that you require by your compounding pharmacist. Government or FDA approved formulas are pre-set formulas that are made by pharmaceutical companies and are standardized to a particular dose and formula. Either can be Human Identical.
For a list of government or FDA approved hormones click here.
What is the difference between Over-the-Counter (OTC) herbal products and HIHS/BHRT?
OTC herbal products contain phyto-hormones, which means that they help to stimulate the body to produce more of its own hormones, the result is gentle hormone support . HIHS/BHRT is the actual hormone itself , which is often derived from the same source ie wild yam or soy, the result is stronger support because it is using the actual hormone itself versus the ingredients needed to make the hormones.
Can I get HIHS/BHRT anywhere?
HIHS/BHRT require a prescription from a hormone doctor, your medical doctor or an endocrinologist. This is important as hormones may come with benefits and risk which your hormone team can help determine in your case. It is also important that regular follow assessment visits, hormone testing, PAP tests, mammograms and ultrasounds be performed to ensure you are using hormones in a safe manner.