The Promise of Bioidentical Hormones: Myths Busted, Questions Answered

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Fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, loss of strength, depression, and sexual dysfunction are all issues that can be alleviated with bioidentical hormones. At Medical Weight Loss of New York, we have provided bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) for over nine years. We introduced this service after recognizing the need for a space specifically designed to enhance sleep quality and overall well-being, alongside aiding in weight loss. Bioidentical hormones can significantly transform your daily life and how you feel. In fact, many people start seeing improvements in as little as a week.

While some fear that hormone therapy might cause serious issues like heart attacks, strokes, or cancer, in reality, bioidentical hormones are designed to mimic those our bodies naturally produce. A common question is, “What are bioidentical hormones made from?” The bioidentical hormone therapy pellets we use are derived from yams, which contain sterols essential for synthesizing estrogen and testosterone. That is the ONLY ingredient, with the exception of Steric Acid that holds the pellets together. These small, Tic Tac-sized pellets are inserted under the skin via a minor incision that doesn’t even need stitches. They remain there for three to five months for women, and 6-8 months for men, providing a steady release that brings you back to the hormone levels you had in your early twenties. Let’s explore the benefits of bioidentical hormones and clear up some common misconceptions people have about them. 

What Are the Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones?

Now that you know what bioidentical hormones are made from, let’s discuss the perks for both men and women. For both sexes, they provide a boost in energy, sleep, and overall mood. You’ll also experience sharper thinking, improved memory and focus, better sexual performance, and a boost in your exercise tolerance. 

If you’re a man struggling with weight gain, weakened muscles, disappointing workouts, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or trouble achieving orgasms, it might be due to low testosterone. Using bioidentical hormones can really turn these issues around and help you get back on track with your life. 

Women often struggle with unwanted belly weight gain during menopause, mainly due to decreasing testosterone levels, which are crucial for metabolism. Bioidentical testosterone treatments can address this as well as a variety of other hormonal issues that women experience. If menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats persist despite the testosterone, adding a bit of estrogen typically clears them up in a couple of days. Estrogen also helps with migraines, osteopenia, or osteoporosis, incontinence, and a more youthful appearance by plumping and tightening the skin. 

How Is BHRT Treatment Given?

First, we numb the skin with a bit of lidocaine, then make a tiny incision to slip the pellet under the skin. This process only takes two to five minutes, and you won’t feel a thing. We seal it up with steri-strips, and after a couple of days, you’re free to do any activity you like. Your hormone levels will stay steady for the entire three to five months and you’ll feel amazing.

Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Safe?

I can confidently say that bioidentical hormone therapy is very, very safe. We mainly use testosterone, an inherently safe hormone, and plant-based estrogen that’s identical to what your body naturally produces. Bioidentical hormone therapy is tailored to you, based on your blood work, hormone levels, and weight. After your first hormone treatment, we ask you to return at the four-week mark to check your bloodwork. Then, we typically see you again at six weeks to discuss your response, and add a booster if needed to achieve optimum results.

Can BHRT Help With Anxiety and Depression?

Estrogen has properties similar to serotonin, a key neurotransmitter influencing mood and sleep. When estrogen or testosterone levels drop, so does serotonin. Boosting these hormone levels can in turn elevate serotonin, helping to reduce anxiety and depression. 

It’s important to note that if you have a strong family history of these conditions or experienced them before hormonal changes, hormone therapy might not completely resolve your symptoms. But for women going through menopause or men with low testosterone, hormone therapy can significantly help with anxiety and depression, and overall mood improvement.

When you first start with bioidentical hormone therapy pellets, you’ll likely build muscle, and with that comes some water weight gain. In our practice, we tackle this by giving you a diuretic to nip that water weight in the bud. Fortunately, more muscle mass boosts your metabolism. So, in your follow-up visits, we often see fat loss and more muscle gain, leading to overall weight loss. Bioidentical hormones are a great addition to any weight loss plan!

At What Age Should You Start Bioidentical Hormones?

For men, if you begin taking bioidentical hormones while your testes are still producing enough testosterone, it can disrupt sperm production and reduce the natural testosterone your body makes. That’s why we generally recommend men wait until they’re 35-40 and have finished family planning to start treatments. 

For women, testosterone can start to drop in your mid to late 30s.  A key sign is decreased libido and the beginning of belly weight gain. If this happens, it’s probably due to dropping testosterone levels. This hormone is key for maintaining muscle, which in turn keeps your metabolism up. So, a decline in testosterone means your metabolism slows down too. Starting testosterone replacement early can make a huge difference in how you feel, and the risks are almost negligible.

6 Myths About Bioidentical Hormones

Bioidentical hormones are often misunderstood, leading to misconceptions about their effects on both men and women. From the idea that testosterone is only for men, to concerns about heart health and cancer risks, there’s a lot to unpack. Let’s address these myths head-on, providing clarity on its role in managing hormonal imbalances and overall health.

  1. Testosterone Is a Male Hormone Only. Testosterone is equally important for men and women. In fact, testosterone is our dominant hormone.  A healthy 20-year-old woman has 6 to 10 times more testosterone than they do estrogen. 
  1. Testosterone Causes Prostate Cancer. Low testosterone can triple the risk of prostate cancer. It’s often the increased estrogen in men with low T that leads to this risk. Replacing testosterone in men can actually help prevent prostate cancer.
  1. Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women Only Involves Estrogen. We frequently use bioidentical testosterone for females. When administered, 85% of women naturally convert a portion of testosterone into estrogen through a process called aromatization. This is often sufficient to address estrogen-related symptoms.
  1. Testosterone Is Dangerous for the Heart. Testosterone is beneficial for heart health. It boosts nitrous oxide, reduces bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and can even help reverse diabetes, improve Lyme disease symptoms, reverse alzheimer’s disease and dramatically improve TBIs, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and overall brain health. 
  1. Hormone Replacement Therapy Increases Breast Cancer Risk. This is one of the greatest lies out there. Testosterone by itself is used to treat metastatic breast cancer. Studies using Bioidentical Hormone therapy using Estrogen with Testosterone showed a dramatic REDUCTION in breast cancer rates over the general population. This is because when our ovaries secrete estrogen, they also secrete the protective hormones testosterone and progesterone. By providing hormone replacement therapy that ais exactly the same as our innate production and in conjunction with other protective hormones (not just estrogen), the risk of estrogen related cancers drops significantly. 
  1. Estrogen in Bioidentical Hormones Causes Blood Clots. Estrogen only increases blood clot risk if it’s given in an oral form. If you use estrogen in a patch or pellet form, it bypasses the liver and does not increase your risk of blood clots.

Embracing Bioidentical Hormones: A Solution for Aging and Hormonal Imbalances

Aging is inevitable: women face menopause, men encounter andropause, and for men carrying extra weight, it can come even sooner. With age, hormonal imbalances often follow, bringing with them challenges like hot flashes, muscle weakness, mood changes, and sexual dysfunction. Bioidentical hormones offer a safe and effective solution for these imbalances. I strongly encourage you to get your hands on some form of bioidentical hormone therapy – it’s a game-changer that can pave the way for a more balanced journey ahead, and a greatly improved overall quality of life!

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