Women most commonly are interested in hormone therapy and balancing hormones because
they experience such a roller coaster of hormonal changes in their lives. PMS, Pregnancy hormones, the baby blues and more, can easily send them over to the doctor for some relief from the woozy ups and downs. Men experience hormonal fluctuations as well with age, stress and diet. The increasingly popular Hormone Replacement and Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) starts looking like an amazing solution to the madness both men and women go through in life. But, there is some normalcy in the fluctuations of hormones, so how do we know if we are really a candidate or in need of Bio-identicals?
Here are 4 great starters to help you determine if you should walk down the Bio-identical Hormone Therapy path.
1. You are tested low in a hormone. This one is pretty obvious, but not always acknowledged. Similar to the fact that doctors don’t give insulin to someone who doesn’t test with abnormal levels, doctors test to make sure that your levels are signaling a need for a hormone. If your body is producing a normal level of the hormone, there isn’t a reason to take it. Your body is producing a level that it is happy with, so let it be happy! Your doctor will be able to look at your other hormone levels and the standard levels for your age, to determine that your results are within a healthy range. Dr. John R. Lee, MD writes a great article on Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), and he even points out that post-menopausal women are not deficient at all, and make plenty of estrogen. He says, “Conventional medicine assumes that women after menopause are estrogen-deficient. This assumption is false. Twenty-five years ago I reviewed the literature on hormone levels before and after menopause, and all authorities agreed that over two-thirds (66 percent) of women up to age 80 continue to make all the estrogen they need. Since then, the evidence has become stronger.” The point he is making is that many people assume they are low in a hormone because of age or symptoms, but their body may not be needing as much of that hormone. Determining low levels of a hormone takes some in-depth study and analysis of each patient. Testing for deficiency levels in hormones isn’t just a simple test either. You don’t test one hormone to see if it falls in the normal range. Each individual person has a specific level of hormones for their body. Doctors must test the individual amount of one hormone, in addition to the rations with other hormones. For example, if someone seems a bit low in estrogen levels, one could find out that they are actually in perfect ration relation with the other hormone levels, and their natural hormone levels are just on the lower side. No problem, and no immediate need for BHRT. Simply put, adding a hormone to your body is a big deal. You don’t want to confuse your body and add a hormone it doesn’t need, which will then affect all the other hormone levels, so determining a true need and deficiency is well-worth some time and testing with your doctor.
2. You are experiencing inappropriate symptoms for your age. This one is not so fun. Let’s say you are a women, healthy and in your 30s, but beginning to experience hot flashes, headaches, dryness and other symptoms related to menopause. Not fun, and not considered healthy or normal. This is called Perimenopause, and it’s when your hormone levels are dropping before they really should be. That is a signal that some pieces are functioning correctly. This is where you would get your hormone levels tested with blood tests and saliva, determine your ratios, and talk to your doctor about BHRT as a solution to your symptoms. Men can also experience their testosterone dropping earlier than it should. This can be a result of various factors, but the symptoms could be relieved with BHRT if that seems to be the right option. Most men experience testosterone drop as they age, but if it seems you are experiencing this earlier than you should, you could definitely be a candidate.
3. Adrenal Fatigue: Most people will experience some form of adrenal fatigue at some point in their life, as the natural life stresses ebb and flow. But, there are some who have experienced chronic adrenal fatigue and no longer produce appropriate levels of the DHEA hormone. Dr. Mercola explains this scenario, “Adrenal exhaustion from coping with chronic stress means your adrenal glands are overworked from manufacturing cortisol, and they simply can’t produce enough DHEA to support a healthy hormonal balance. The result? You feel exhausted, often depressed, and your muscle tone decreases while body fat increases (cortisol tells your body to store fat).” These individuals are most-likely experiencing weight gain, premature aging, low libido, possible osteoporosis and maybe some symptoms of Type II diabetes. Chronic stress and fatigue can really do a number on your Adrenal glands, and possibly make you a candidate for Bio identical hormone treatment for DHEA. There is of course only one way to know for sure, and that is to test your levels. If you are experiencing low libido, depression and low-moods regularly and for quite some time, you may be a perfect candidate.
4. Thyroid Therapy: First of all, we can point out the more obvious candidate for BHRT specifically concerning the thyroid, and that would be those who had their thyroid removed or partially removed in surgery. That produces and obvious reason for continued thyroid support, where BHRT might be the perfect option. The other cases, which are less obvious, are those who have symptoms of low or high thyroid function. These individuals, to keep it simple, have some sort of issue going on that causes problems converting T3s and T4s. Chris Kesser explains what this means with a more in-depth thyroid series on his blog. Basically, there are deeper issues that cause thyroid dysfunction, and that is the most important piece to understand before you pursue BHRT options. Chris Kesser makes this point and states, “If you’ve been following this series, you know that there’s no single cause for low thyroid function. Do you have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s) causing destruction of your thyroid gland? Do you have high levels of estrogen causing an increase in thyroid binding proteins and a decrease in free thyroid hormone? Do you have a systemic inflammatory condition affecting your ability to convert T4 to T3, or decreasing the sensitivity of the cells in your body to thyroid hormone?” You and your doctor must determine if there is a hormone imbalance that is the root of your thyroid dysfunction. At that point, BHRT might be the perfect option for you because you can use BHRT to help correct the cause of the thyroid issues. Hashimoto’s disease is actually responsible for about 90 percent of thyroid issues. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease attack on the thyroid, which needs to be managed first, rather than the hormone imbalances. These cases are typically not the best for BHRT. If you are suffering symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, and you are confident there isn’t an autoimmune issue, then BHRT might be the right option for you to pursue.
To make things even simpler, we’ve got a great questionnaire we published you can take with a number to call and a free information packet we can send your way. We also have a list of hormone replacement therapy providers you are welcome to take a look at, and our previous article, The BHRT Revolution, which gives more in-depth information on hormone replacement therapy for women and menopause.