What is BHRT?
BHRT stands for Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. The hormones are derived from yam and/or soy. Once extracted from their natural source, the hormones go through chemical steps in the lab that alter them to become identical to the human hormone molecules. Bio-identical hormones fit the receptor site like a “key in a lock”. Additionally, our body has the right enzymes to break down and metabolize the hormones properly and efficiently.
How do I take BHRT?
Compounding pharmacies can formulate a wide variety of different dosage forms for BHRT. Some of the most commonly used dosage forms include transdermal cream, gel, lotion, spray, sublingual drops, vaginal suppository, vaginal cream, oral capsule, troche, and injection. A particular dosage form can contain single or multiple hormones to meet each patient’s unique needs and doctor’s request. Each patient is unique hence each preparation is customized.
Few commercial formulations of BHRT are also available in Canada.
How are bio-identical hormones dispensed?
A wide variety of dispensing devices are used for BHRT. Some of the most commonly used devices include syringes, pump, topiclick, troche mold, suppository shell, tube, ointment pot, spray bottle, sublingual dropper, and sterile vial. Each device allows the patient to accurately measure the prescribed dose.
What are the side effects of using BHRT?
Side effects that occur with bio-identical hormones are directly related to dose and balance. Dose can be related to the strength of the preparation but also to the form and the ability of the individual to absorb the preparation.
The dose of one hormone may be appropriate but if its relationship to the other hormones is not correct symptoms may occur.
The form of the preparation may carry different benefits e.g. oral progesterone can make one sleepy whereas progesterone applied transdermally or vaginally is unlikely to have the same result. This can be an advantage if one is having difficulty falling asleep but a disadvantage if this results in daytime sleepiness.
Will I gain weight if I take hormones?
Weight gain is quite often a result of hormone imbalance. In fact most women gain weight during peri-menopause and menopause without supplementing with hormones because of the hormone imbalance created at that time.
An underactive thyroid caused by an inability of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone or the effect of stress hormones or sex hormone imbalance on the thyroid gland can cause weight gain.
Stress and lack of sleep or other symptoms of menopause not being normalized with bio-identical hormones such as irritability and depression can alter dietary and exercise patterns which can also result in weight gain.
How long do I need to use BHRT?
The duration of the therapy varies with the individual when BHRT is being used to relieve the symptoms associated with peri-menopause or menopause. Eventually you will be able to wean off the BHRT and the undesirable symptoms will disappear.
Properly balanced hormones have been shown to have many health benefits such as lowering cardiovascular risk, osteoporosis and Alzheimer risk. Using hormones as a preventative measure has no time limit; however the dose may have to be adjusted periodically.
Will BHRT help with my hair loss?
Proper endocrine balance may help with hair, skin and nail health. This includes estrogen/progesterone and testosterone balance, and also includes proper thyroid and adrenal function. Approximately 10% of patients with “normal” thyroid labs may experience fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, dry hair, brittle nails and other low function related symptoms. Targeting optimal levels that fall within the wider range of “normal” values helps to relieve these symptoms.
Will BHRT help with my sex drive?
Many factors affect the sex drive during the aging process. Keeping the hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) in balance and optimal levels may play a role in maintaining a healthy sex drive. Customized Testosterone Replacement Therapy works well for both women and men. The most common dosage form is a topical cream. It is also important that the adrenal and thyroid glands are functioning properly. Many symptoms of low adrenal and or low thyroid function are similar to low testosterone.
Do I need a prescription for BHRT?
Yes, a prescription is needed for us to compound BHRT for a patient. The prescription may be phoned in by the doctor, faxed from the doctor’s office, or mailed in to the pharmacy.