Millions of women in the United States are suffering from hormonal imbalance, whether it is early menopause, perimenopause symptoms, perimenopause weight gain, adrenal fatigue, menopause, or premenstrual symptoms (PMS). In many cases, Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is the solution.
I feel different. It’s affecting my wellness. I can’t explain why.
Tracking your symptoms and purchasing a saliva hormone test to assess hormone levels is a good start. Finding the optimal dose of hormones is determined through laboratory testing with a medical or naturopathic doctor. Be aware that your optimal dose could change as you age, if you gain or lose weight, substantially change your diet, start taking other hormones or medications, or otherwise affect hormonal balance in your body. Learning more about the subject helps you better understand how to interpret your symptoms. You’ve come to the right place, read on!
What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
As we age, our bodies change in outward appearance, as do our internal physiological processes. Over time, both men and women undergo changes in their hormone levels, often making them unbalanced. Hormones affect many areas of your health, including your mood, your metabolism, and your sexual and reproductive function. If your hormones become imbalanced, whether due to menopause or other factors, it can have a dramatic effect on how you feel and how your body functions. The good news is that we can assist our bodies by replacing the needed hormones helping to restore proper hormonal balance. This is called Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy or BHRT.
Curious about your hormone levels? Purchase a BHRT testing kit.
Saliva hormone testing kits are available at Cascade Custom Pharmacy along with friendly staff to help guide you through the process. Saliva testing is safe and has proven to be the most reliable way to test hormone levels. Unlike serum tests, saliva testing represents only bioavailable hormones actively delivered to receptors in the body for a more accurate reflection of active hormone levels.
Use bioidentical hormones rather than synthetic hormones!
Synthetic hormones have different molecular structure than hormones made by the body. The relationship a hormone has bonding to its corresponding receptor is determined by this structure, and will influence its physiological activity. Hormones that are not bioidentical do not provide the same total physiologic activity as the hormones they are intended to replace and will provoke undesirable side effects.
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Is it wise to “mess with mother nature”?
There’s a much simpler way of looking at introducing hormones into the body to address symptoms. We’re all different. Our bodies all function differently as well. For many women hormones may be in balance, but for some the symptoms of hormone deficiencies or overabundance can affect wellness. Western, naturopathic, and eastern medicine support addressing symptoms. As such there is an acceptance in all disciplines that although the biology and physiology nature has created is awe inspiring in its elegance and complexity, the feelings we experience in response to symptoms are also a result nature’s design. These feelings and physical symptoms give us what we need to know to address them in a way that allows us to feel good again. Whether a medicine is plant derived, synthesized, other otherwise extracted or manufactured, it has a purpose which is designed to address an imbalance or have a specific complementary effect to nature’s design. For many women who take bioidentical hormones to address hormonal imbalance the relief from symptoms can restore a sense of well-being and happiness.
If I feel one or more of the common symptoms what next?
Cascade Custom Pharmacy has safe, non-invasive saliva hormone tests available which will reveal hormone levels. This is a great, easy way of determining if there’s a hormone imbalance in effect. A specific hormone out of balance can be directly connected to the symptom and provide the insight you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
Oprah Winfrey’s experience with BHRT
When Winfrey turned 55 she wrote in the February 2009 edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, that she felt “out of kilter” for several years. Upon a friend’s recommendation, Winfrey went to a doctor who specializes in hormone therapy. The hormone specialist told her that her “hormonal tank was empty” and gave her a prescription for bioidentical estrogen. “After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift,” Winfrey writes. “After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step.”
Every woman is different, and therefore every story about hormone balancing is different. What’s important to note is one’s state of wellness. If something doesn’t feel right, taking a saliva hormone test prior to visiting a doctor is an easy way of taking a peek at hormone levels.
Why aren’t compounded bioidentical hormones FDA approved?
The FDA doesn’t approve any compounded products, for any condition, because those products aren’t standardized. Be aware that this doesn’t mean they are not safe.
Good advice for any women considering BHRT
Many doctors believe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a great way for women to balance their hormones in the lowest dose possible that will relieve symptoms. When there’s a deficiency and it’s causing emotional stress, it can also cause physiological stress and hardship for the body. However, hormone therapy should be addressed in the context of the whole person with her diet, her exercise, her lifestyle, her relationships, and with her stresses. Any single source of suffering can have a destabilizing effect on the entire organism. Viewing all aspect as collaborative elements working to support wellness on the whole is very important.
A woman is defined as being in menopause when she hasn’t had a period in 12 months or more. Although women can experience premature menopause before the age of 45, this process begins after 45 the vast majority of the time. The time period during which a woman’s body makes its 2-10 year long natural transition towards permanent infertility (menopause) is called perimenopause and means “around menopause”. The estrogen group hormone levels made up of estradiol, estrione, and estriol, rise and fall unevenly during perimenopause. Menstrual cycles can become longer or shorter and your body may skip ovulation during some cycles. To confuse things further, menopause-like symptoms can manifest such as hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness. Once menopause is over symptoms are considered postmenopausal.
Common postmenopausal symptoms
The end of menopause doesn’t mean troublesome menopause symptoms disappear. For some women certain symptoms simply persist and must be addressed. Common postmenopausal symptoms are:
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues and Insomnia
- Weight gain
- Occasional hot flashes
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal dryness
- Stress incontinence
When are things going to get normal again?
Many postmenopausal women still experience symptoms which affect their wellness. Some women joke about menopause lasting “forever” because of symptoms persisting after menopause, but many of these symptoms are simply due to hormone imbalances. Many symptoms can be directly connected to either a surplus of a particular hormone or a deficiency. Taking a saliva hormone balance test and making an appointment with a medical or naturopathic doctor are a great first step to determining the root cause of symptoms associated with menopause. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy introduces hormones which are deficient in very small quantities to restore natural levels. Many women report their symptoms disappear once the proper compounded hormones are introduced in dosages that provide normal physiologic tissue levels.
Further testing as a patient
Successful and safe BHRT necessitates laboratory testing to assess the patient’s current hormonal status, monitor treatment, and ensure that hormones are being metabolized in ways that reduce risks. We can make recommendations upon request.
Symptoms hormone imbalance can cause:
- Unexplained Weight Gain
- Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
- Mood Swings
- Low Libido
- Memory Loss
- Premenstrual symptoms
- Vaginal Dryness
- Cyclical headaches or migraines
- Breast Tenderness
- Painful intercourse
- Memory Problems or Fogginess
- Bladder Infections
- Heavy Bleeding
- Excessive Hair on Face/Arms
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, cramping, and spotting have been reported by some women but may resolve for many as hormone levels balance in time.
How do I know if I have a hormonal imbalance?
Symptoms are good indicators that can give insight into a potential hormonal imbalance. Cascade Custom Pharmacy offers a saliva hormone testing kit available expressly for this purpose. Call us for more information.
Is the incremental approach the best way to introduce hormones into the body?
Yes. MDs and NDs will both highly favor an incremental approach which introduces balancing hormones in small doses. The intention is to determine a healthy hormonal balance based on both testing and symptom relief.
Diet and exercise can alleviate postmenopausal symptoms
It may come as no surprise that two great ways of balancing one’s body in a variety of ways is exercise and diet! Medical and naturopathic doctors can often be heard sharing the virtues of daily exercise and a balanced diet and recommend taking a close look at what you’re putting into your body and how much physical activity you get every day. Making even incremental changes can often have a miraculous effect on your mood, your body, and your state of happiness. We recommend viewing nutritional and lifestyle changes as ‘the basics’. If, however, the symptoms persist, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be a great way to improve how you feel.
Hormone deficiencies, hormone fluctuations, stress, self-image, sexuality, aging, and changing life circumstances can cause emotional distress which can result in mood swings or a more consistent permanent feeling of depression. There are three general categories used to describe different conditions. All depressive conditions are associated with a profound state of unease and general dissatisfaction with life. Although often difficult to diagnose, both cause and severity are important distinctions which can help determine how to best cope with the situation. A depressed mood or mood swing is often associated with a short period in which one feels depressed but also feels the symptoms lift in a pattern of ups and downs. This form of depression is referred to as dysphoria. Situational depression is usually linked to life changes or a traumatic event and is called dysthymia. Recognizing, exploring, understanding, and accepting can all be powerful transformative steps in the process of adjustment to life change causing the emotional distress. Left unchecked chronic depression can progress to the third form called clinical depression. Clinical depression is associated with physical changes in the chemistry of the brain. Hormone imbalances can play a tricky role in depression due the combination of major stressors in life causing it. Hormone balances alone can be the direct cause of emotional distress associated with depression.
Can my family physician prescribe bioidentical hormone therapy?
Traditional doctors do not usually have expertise in hormone replacement therapy. However, any physician may have undergone training and can be a good candidate. We can provide a list of both medical doctors and naturopathic doctors who are good choices upon request.
Do I need a prescription for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Yes, always. Bioidentical hormones are compounded prescription drugs that are produced in a compounding pharmacy.
I want to know more about BHRT!
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Doctors in Central Oregon who specialize in addressing hormonal imbalances using BHRT
Dr. Peter Palacio M.D.
Dr. Michelle K. Jackson N.D.
- East West Naturopathic Clinic
Dr. Azure Karli N.D.
- Bend Naturopathic Clinic
Dr. Payson Flattery N.D.
- Center For Integrative Medicine
Dr. Emma Baker N.D.
- Baker Family Naturopathic