Can I have low thyroid if my lab work shows that I am within the “normal range”?
Absolutely. Thousands of people are walking around with symptomatic low thyroid levels because their lab work shows they don’t have thyroid disease. However, lack of disease does NOT translate into optimal thyroid levels. Most physicians are trained as disease fixers – not function optimizers. Special lab test are required to assess how much thyroid the cells are drinking in – and if they need more.
Does testosterone cause prostate cancer?
Look around you at all of the teenage boys strutting around with testosterone raging through their system? Are they dropping like flies from prostate cancer? And why is it that prostate cancer strikes older men – men who have lower testosterone levels as they age? No study has ever proven that prostate cancer is caused by testosterone. Interestingly the worst of the prostate cancers occur in men with a longstanding low level of testosterone.
Does testosterone replacement stop a man’s own production of testosterone? What is HCG?
Long term, high dose injectable testosterone will suppress a man’s natural secretion and can possibly cause the testicles to shrink in size. This is less of a problem with creams. The ‘reversibility’ of this suppression over time is different for each individual male. hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone that stimulates the testicles to produce their own testosterone. We like to use this in men who are younger who still want children (testosterone shots decrease sperm count too). We can also use a blend of testosterone and hCG to reduce the chances of small testicles and lower the dose of testosterone needed.
For older men, they are taking testosterone because their own secretion has become inadequate to support them. So suppressing their ‘natural’ testosterone secretion isn’t a big deal since these men will usually be on testosterone supplementation for life – or as long as they want to feel better and avoid the onset and progression of chronic disease.
Is there such a thing as male menopause?
Yes, and the fancy medical name for it is andropause. Men lose their testosterone over time and start noticing things like decreased muscle mass, weight gain, less physical endurance, lower sex drive, loss of decisiveness, poor memory, irritability, and decreased sexual performance. They also increase their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes – all from low testosterone.
Will hormone replacement help with mood swings, depression and mental clarity?
Hormone imbalances are a huge cause of depression and emotional instability. They can also cause the brain to be a little fuzzy. This is especially seen during peri-menopause, menopause and andropause. Hormone replacement effectively resolves these problems. Unfortunately many of these patients fall through the cracks and are treated with anti-depressants, anxiety medication or sleeping pills – and remain undiagnosed.
Does Hormone Replacement cause cancer in women?
There has been much controversy over whether or not estrogen replacement causes cancer of the breast or endometrium in the uterus. A lot of this was generated from an poorly designed study in 1991 called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) from which many false conclusions were reached – later dispelled and discredited. Some studies even suggest that hormone therapy actually reduces the risk of cancer. We know that if the estrogen is balanced with progesterone and estriol then there is no evidence that this hormone therapy causes cancer. The real risk concern is with women who have had breast cancer in the past or have a mother who had breast cancer. These women are also being treated by many physicians if active cancer is ruled out and maybe BRCA gene testing is performs on appropriate patients.
I have migraines associated with my menstrual cycle, will hormones help?
The majority of migraines in women associated with menstrual cycles can be eliminated with hormone therapy, especially with progesterone. Menstrual migraines usually or the result of inadequate progesterone levels – which is also the cause in most women for PMS.
What are the side effects of hormone replacement?
Side-effects are often minimal and due to unbalanced levels in the body – usually as a result of not yet nailing the dose needed for a given patient. Breast tenderness, water retention, acne, irritability and elevated pulse are among the side effects that can occur as the proper dose of hormones is being ‘worked out’.
How are the hormones used – in what form?
Hormones are self-administered once or twice a day using creams (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone), vaginally (estrogen), oral capsules (DHEA, thyroid, progesterone) or via small injections just under the skin (testosterone). There are several ways to administer the same hormone – we customize this for each patient.
How long until I see results using hormones replacement therapy?
Everyone responds differently. You can see results in as early as two weeks, especially with thyroid replacement. Most people, however, notice a change within the first two or three months. Sometimes it can take as long as six months – remember that it took a while to get to this bad place. You will notice changes in energy and sleep patterns – brain function improves and sex drive ramps up.
If I have a hormonal deficiency, will I need to take hormones for the rest of my life?
Usually, but not always. In situations where the hormone imbalance is caused by excessive stress or illness, hormones may return to ‘normal’ once these conditions are resolved . In general, once your hormones start to decline with age, it is unlikely that they will ‘spring back’. Most people will need to continue treatment indefinitely as long as they want to feel better and enjoy the long term health benefits of hormonal therapy.
My sex drive is low, could it be my hormones?
Yes, estrogen and testosterone serve to fuel your sex drive. Too much or too little of either these important hormones can cause a decrease in sex drive or performance issues. Low thyroid, chronic stress, and poor sleep also can cause your sex drive to take a hit.
When should I consider bioidentical hormone therapy?
The optimal age for treatment varies from person to person. Our hormonal peak coincides with our physical peak. Our natural hormones generally begin to decline after your mid-20s and symptoms start to appear by our mid-30s. Hormone replacement therapy usually starts in the late 30s. If one has symptoms of a hormone imbalance, it is best to get started and not wait.
Who needs bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)?
All of the various hormone deficiencies manifest with classic symptoms that point to the problem. These symptoms are frequently missed by physicians untrained in hormone optimization. These symptoms include fatigue, depression, hair loss, weight gain, muscle atrophy, low energy levels, insomnia, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, and anxiety. Hormone problems can also be anticipated when certain benchmarks such as andropause and menopause have been reached. Sometimes patients can have multiple hormone problems making the problem very complex to untangle.
Integrative medicine physicians then use special lab tests to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment. Treament will usually also involve changes in lifestyle and addressing environmental issues.
Where do the hormones come from? How are they made?
Bioidentical testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are derived from soy or yams. The extracted parent substance is then modified to produce hormones that are exact copies of the hormones in our body.
What are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are an exact replica of the hormones that are naturally produced by the body. The difference between bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones is that, although both are created in labs, a bio-identical hormone ‘fits’ into a cell just like a key in a lock. Synthetic hormones aren’t exact copies and have a ‘sloppy fit’, causing several adverse side effects – some of them serious. Synthetic hormones used by many internist, family practice physicians and OB/Gyn docs are really hormone ‘imposters’.
Bio-identical hormones are provided by compounding pharmacies which allow for customized individual dosing as opposed to the few limited dose selections offered by pharmaceutical company products – a decision driven more by economics and revenue verses what’s best for the patient.
What is Growth Hormone? Is it safe? What are the side effects? Is it FDA approved?
Growth hormone is one of the most important hormones influencing the aging process. Up until recently, it was thought that the only function of growth hormone was to stimulate growth in children. However, research now shows that this substance is responsible for maintaining the reparative and restorative functions of many, if not all, of our tissues. It was found that adults who lack growth hormone age prematurely; and that restoring the GH levels to normal reverse the premature aging process seen in Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency.
It has been noted for years that the production of GH gradually decreases with age in a manner that closely correlates with the development of the signs of physical aging. In deficient individuals restoring the growth hormone levels to the level of a healthy individual improves all of these tissues, increasing the thickness and elasticity of your skin, reducing wrinkles and sagging, increasing the strength and volume of your muscles and increasing the lean body mass. It also increases the strength of the ligaments and fascia, reducing your susceptibility to injuries such as sprains and strains. Growth hormone is also is a powerful stimulant to bone deposition, reversing osteoporosis and further reducing your potential for injury. It also appears to affect the lining of the arteries, the endothelium, reducing the development of atherosclerosis. Adults with Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency statistically more likely to die of ischemic heart disease at a younger age than normal adults.
Treatment with hGH is indicated for treatment of Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency. The diagnosis is initially suspected by a low morning fasting IGF-1 level. This screening test should be followed up with a stim test to more definitively establish the deficiency. Growth hormone is remarkably free of serious side effects when used in a monitored and controlled program. Proper dosage is critical and blood levels must be monitored to determine the proper dose. Some people may experience some fluid retention during the early phases of the program. This is easily remedied with dose reduction, or brief cessation of treatment. There is some mythology that growth hormone is associated with cancer. This misconception is due to the fact that, when growth hormone was first available, it’s only use was in the treatment of forms of genetic dwarfism, conditions that were already known to be associated with forms of cancer. Growth hormone has not been shown to be associated with any type of cancer. Growth hormone requires some caution in the presence of insulin resistance or early Diabetes Mellitus Type II.