Last week we introduced the first in our two-part series discussing hormone replacement therapy (see Part I: Hormone Replacement Therapy is Safe — When Done Right). Our objective in today’s post is to outline our approach to such a potentially life-changing treatment protocol to managing hormonal balance.
With this post, we offer a simple primer of the process involved in diagnosing and treating our female patients suffering a hormone deficiency. But most important, we want to let you know what you can expect from such treatments.
Since the outcome is obviously of utmost interest, maybe we should start with the end results you can expect as a part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Keep in mind that HRT is not a magic elixir, nor is it the Fountain of Youth. But we can pretty much bank on the fact that there will be positively visible, physical, and emotional changes that cannot be denied.
According to our patients, the primary benefits of hormone replacement therapy include the following:
- An increase in sexual desire
- A decrease or elimination of so-called “hot flashes”
- Improvements in skin tone and hair texture.
Most of our patients tell us they experience the effects within a few weeks, with full benefits realized in subsequent months. Many recall the first indications of improvement came when they realized they were enjoying an overall sense of ‘well-being’ that had been missing in their lives for a number of years.
How Are Such Hormones Delivered to the Body?
Patients have a number of options when it comes to the method of delivery of HRT. Among these simple procedures are:
- A daily prescription of pills to be taken orally
- Creams or patches attached to the skin — also taken on a daily basis
- Insertion of tiny pellets under the skin, performed every three months at the doctor’s office
What is Involved in the Process of HRT?
You often hear the term “sex hormones” used to describe the primary ingredients of hormone replacement therapy, and that phrase refers to estrogen, progesterone or testosterone. But these hormones go far and beyond an improvement to one’s sex life.
Indeed, they are also instrumental in the health of your heart, your brain, your bone composition, and your immune system, as well as one’s mental health.
Balanced hormone levels — along with the possession of healthy hormone receptors — go a long way in eliminating or reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and dementia. This becomes increasingly important as we age.
BioDesign’s Approach to the Issue of Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you have any experience at all with our office, you know we don’t begin any health regimen before administering the appropriate laboratory tests.
And by that, we don’t mean a “shotgun approach” of ordering up dozens of unnecessary procedures as part of a hunting expedition. When we say appropriate tests, we mean the ones required to offer you an honest and accurate diagnosis of your health issues.
Our approach is to ensure that — on a consistent basis — you are consuming a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and practicing a preventive health maintenance program on your own and with our help.
We aren’t going to see you once and start adding hormones to your body in a haphazard delivery system.
That’s what we call a quick fix, and like most half-measure attempts, it’s doomed to failure. The idea is to address any underlying health issues first, then add the hormone replacement treatment as a sort of “flowers added to a scenic view.”
We think that HRT should be on the table only after our patient is eating appropriately, exercising often, and has sat still for the lab tests that might point to hormone replacement as a solution to their underlying health issues. In other words, we prefer to restore your health first, making hormone therapy the cherry on top.
What Tests Might Be Appropriate Prior to HRT?
Before we start ingesting, injecting, or smearing on anything, the doctors and staff here at BioDesign Wellness collect your health history and perform a thorough physical exam that takes into consideration digestion problems, sleep patterns, blood sugar composition, and adrenal health.
We’re also screening for deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (EFAs); blood sugar levels; inflammatory markers; and liver health. These issues must be resolved — or at least on the road to resolution — well before HRT is ever considered.
Other tests to be performed prior to HRT might include a look at a number of hormones, including cortisol, progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is a precursor for testosterone and estrogen.
For some women, hormone replacement therapy may begin immediately (that decision is made in consultation with your doctor and includes factors related to your health history, labs, and the doctor’s understanding of your concerns).
For others, a preparation protocol for HRT comes first, which includes adjustments to diet, intake of doctor-recommended recommended nutritional supplements, and clinical monitoring.
That approach may take a few weeks to start and complete, after which the hormone replacement therapy begins. Once therapy starts, we can test again in three months, and depending on the results. Your hormone protocol may be adjusted.
Yes, this sounds like a lot of lab work, but consider the alternative. Suppose we approve an HRT program, and you almost immediately begin to feel great — only to find that improvement begins to dissipate and then disappear because underlying issues were not resolved initially.
For long-lasting good health, it just makes sense to take the time to resolve the root causes of metabolic issues beforehand.
And then enjoy the “cherry on top.”
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post on hormone replacement therapy — the second in our series on hormone replacement therapy — is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.