As we age, hormone imbalances can create unpleasant and frustrating challenges. Since hormones act as essential communicators between cells in our bodies, they can affect many functional systems for both men and women. Thankfully, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an effective solution to restore balance in the body and improve quality of life. At Fleur Women’s Health in Ranchero Mirage, CA, we are committed to providing the best treatment plans for hormone replacement.
Your hormones are continuously sharing information between organs that instructs them on how to expend their energy, how to behave, and when to activate. In this way, hormones regulate many necessary functions, such as metabolism, reproduction, and growth. If you didn’t have hormones, your body wouldn’t know when to eat, when to sleep, or for how long.
Many things can affect or inhibit hormone production, including age, health conditions, and chemical interference. While hormone changes can be part of a natural biological process, too little or too much can create unpleasant side effects. This is where HRT can help resolve persistent and irregular imbalances that many women face.
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is made up of all the organs that produce hormones, such as the reproductive organs (testes and ovaries), pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid gland, hypothalamus, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, and adrenal gland. Each of these glands is designed to produce a hormone for a specific function in the body, and these hormones travel through the bloodstream to guide and control this intended functionality.
Sometimes chemicals and other disruptions in our environment can affect the function of the endocrine system. Appropriately called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals are difficult to avoid. They are often found in plastics, cosmetics, detergents, and other items we often use every day. Unfortunately, these disruptors are linked to adverse effects related to hormone production, which is yet another reason why the popularity of HRT is growing exponentially.
Women and Hormones
The number one reason women seek HRT is menopause. During this time, ovaries slow their production of estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to frustrating symptoms. As women navigate life changes such as menstruation, birth, and menopause, they will experience the ebb and flow of hormone changes.
Often, when one hormone declines, the body’s organs may try to overcompensate, which can kickstart a domino effect of unpleasant symptoms. When imbalances become too difficult to manage on their own, many women begin to explore HRT, especially near menopause. At this time in a woman’s life, it is more important than ever to be sure she is prioritizing supportive self-care, listening to her body’s needs, and living a healthy lifestyle.
What Causes Hormone Changes?
For women, there are many reasons for hormone changes. Menopause, underlying health conditions, hysterectomy surgery, and aging can all affect the levels of hormones in a woman’s body. In addition, the endocrine system itself typically begins to decline as we age, so even if the levels of hormones stay the same, the receptors in our bodies become less sensitive.
Conditions such as diabetes and other health problems that may cause poor circulation can also impair endocrine function. Since hormones travel through the bloodstream, the lack of a strong blood supply and good circulation can impede the delivery of hormones to their intended destinations.
For women experiencing hormonal imbalances, symptoms will vary. However, the most commonly reported symptoms include hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and even depression. Osteoporosis is a complication of the hormonal changes during menopause, so it is important to have regular screenings during this time.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Overview
The goal of HRT is to determine the optimal levels of hormones in the body and then to assess whether these hormones are being under-produced. Our doctors are experts at identifying when hormone supplementation or replacement is necessary. A simple blood test and a consultation are often all that’s needed.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Fleur Women’s Health uses bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). This is a form of HRT that uses hormones that are not synthetic or animal-derived. These bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to those occurring naturally in a woman’s body, so they are better-tolerated and considered a more “natural” type of hormone replacement.
The Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
There are two main benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement over traditional hormone replacement. The first is that there is some evidence to suggest that there are fewer side effects with BHRT than with traditional HRT. In addition, synthetic hormones tend to be produced in a limited range of standardized doses. In contrast, dosages can be more easily changed and adapted with BHRT.
Methods of Hormone Delivery
This is the most common, and therefore the most studied, form of HRT. Most pills are taken once a day but can be adjusted to the body’s needs. While this was the standard method for quite a while, newer delivery methods are becoming increasingly popular.
Patches are a convenient form of HRT since they are applied to the skin and remain in place for several days. Patches are often worn on the stomach and are a good option for people who don’t like taking oral medications, have stomach problems from pills, or have a difficult time remembering to take their pills. Some research has shown that the risk of blood clotting is smaller with the patch than with pills, but more evidence is needed.
Gels and Creams
Similarly to patches, this form of treatment is through skin absorption. Since they are topical and are delivered through the skin directly into the bloodstream, these are safer for people with cholesterol or liver problems. It is important to make sure these are stored in a safe place away from pets and children.
This new generation of treatment has revolutionized HRT. Pellet implants are about the size of a grain of rice and are inserted just under the skin, where they deliver a consistent dose of hormones. The treatment is done in the office and only takes a few minutes.
Hormone Replacement With Pellecome
Our doctors stand behind Pellecome pellet therapy as our hormone replacement therapy of choice. Pellecome is an advanced technology that has improved upon the tools and methodologies used by standard pellet therapy. Pellets only need to be replaced three to four times a year.
Because pellets are delivered transdermally, Pellecome treatment bypasses the liver and gut, which decrease risks associated with effects on these organs. Patches are expensive, and topical treatments come with the risk of unintentional exposure. Pellecome has all the advantages of a convenient, consistent treatment without any of these risks.
Signs You May Need Hormone Replacement Therapy
We all feel a normal level of fatigue from time to time as a result of a stressful day, or a poor night’s sleep. Being tired from a mentally taxing day at work is one thing, but being unusually exhausted all the time is something completely different. If you barely have enough energy to make it through your normal daily activities, our doctors can help you determine if a hormone imbalance is the cause.
If you notice an uptick in physical changes, such as unexplained weight loss or gain, libido issues, or any unusual bowel or bladder habits, a hormone imbalance may be at play. At your consultation, our doctors will ask you to give a history of the duration of these changes and what helps alleviate them. We will help you narrow down which hormones may be out of balance and develop a personalized and effective treatment plan.
So many of us find that we experience some frustration and irritability as normal responses to our busy schedules. Anxiety is prevalent in most of our lives. However, if you find yourself experiencing intense mood changes or lengthy depressive episodes, a consultation with our doctors can help determine if HRT may be one way to ease these symptoms.
Increased Risk of Bone Loss
Osteoporosis is a condition that many of us face as we age. As our bone density decreases, the discs in between our vertebrae start to thin out and become less supple. Since these discs act as the shock absorbers of the spine, this creates a higher risk of spinal degeneration. In turn, the risk of fractures and falls increases as well. HRT can help lower the risk of osteoporosis.
If you are experiencing unrelenting night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, low libido, and fatigue that just won’t go away, don’t wait to have a conversation with our doctors. Hormone replacement therapy may be the solution for you. On average, many patients find that their symptoms lessen or go away completely within one to two weeks of beginning treatment.
Keeping Things Balanced
Risk factors for hormone imbalances include smoking, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, and having poor sleeping habits. Even with HRT, it is helpful to reduce these risk factors to support a healthy environment for balancing hormones. By making lifestyle changes and being watchful of stressors, you can take control of many factors affecting hormone imbalance.
As with most things, getting an appropriate amount of exercise will help your body function at its best. It not only improves heart and lung health, but it floods the brain with chemicals such as endorphins, which are known to improve mood. Endorphins are hormones responsible for supporting an effective stress response and help to increase feelings of well-being. They stave off depression and make anxiety more manageable.
Watch Eating Habits
Yes, even your eating habits are related to hormones. The ghrelin hormone is what signals to your body that you have eaten enough and are full. However, an imbalance may cause you to over-eat or to eat at inappropriate times. By consuming healthy foods and avoiding foods that create inflammation in the body (like sugar and carbs) you will give your body its best chance at sustaining a healthy hormone balance.
When we are stressed, our body responds by producing cortisol and adrenaline. Too much cortisol for too long can cause blood sugar imbalances and high blood pressure. It stresses the cardiovascular system and impairs the immune response. Prioritizing self-care can go a long way toward balancing the body in more ways than one.
Introducing mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing the heart rate and relaxing muscles. In addition, practicing breathing exercises can calm our thoughts and focus the mind, which in turn reduces the effects of cortisol on the body.
Get Relief Today
Don’t wait to find out if hormone replacement therapy is right for you. Our experienced doctors take great pride in designing personalized and effective treatment plans. We are eager to help you put an end to your symptoms now. Call Fleur Women’s Health in Ranchero Mirage, CA today for a consultation!