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Robin McGraw says she is familiar with feelings of fatigue and lifelessness. "It didn't come because of menopause," she says. "It actually started long before I was in the menopause phase of my life."

When Robin was 44, she started getting hot flashes and feeling unlike herself. "I'd had a hot flash, and I thought, 'What's going on? I'm too young for this,'" she says. So she started interviewing doctors and vowed to find a way to get her hormones back in balance.

Robin writes about her experiences with hormone replacement therapy in her book What's Age Got to Do with It? Like many mothers, Robin says she was making her family a priority but not taking care of herself. "[As women, we] put ourselves at the bottom of the list," she says. "It was through my mother's untimely death and raising my boys that I started to think, 'Wait a minute, I love my children, so I need to take care of their mother.'"

Robin says it wasn't just physical symptoms like hot flashes that alerted her to a problem. She noticed differences in her overall attitude. "I thought, 'Why can't I pull myself out of this? Because I'm a happy person. I'm always smiling, and I'm losing that. I'm losing that excitement for everything I'm taking on in my life right now.'"

When Robin went to the doctor, she was told she was in menopause and got a prescription for hormones. Though Robin insisted she wanted to do research before taking anything, she says the doctor laughed at her. "She said, 'Oh you'll be back. Trust me,'" Robin says. "I think the one moment that sealed my fate … was when she said, 'And also fill this because you're going to need it.' And it was antidepressants."

Instead of blindly following her doctor's advice, Robin decided to take control of her body. "Healthcare management is not one size fits all," she says. "It's one size for you and you and you."

After doing extensive research, Robin decided that, for her, the best route was bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are an exact chemical match to hormones naturally occurring in the human body. These chemicals are extracted from the yam and soy plants. They are synthesized to be identical to the molecules of the hormones naturally produced by women and men. The body recognizes the bioidentical hormones from these plants exactly like they would the hormones produced from the testes or ovaries. It is important to know that the absorption pathway can make a difference in the effectiveness and the side effects depending on if the hormones are taken by pill or topically, as a cream or patch. The body does a better job if the bioidentical hormones are taken topically.

Are they FDA approved?

Custom made mixtures of bioidentical hormones are not approved by the FDA because they are chemically synthesized from a natural plant source and the molecules have not been altered. The pharmaceutical companies cannot patent natural plant chemicals, but chemicals that are altered in molecular structure can be patented. Chemists must first alter the hormones in order for a patent to be obtained and profits made by the drug companies. These synthetic hormones, which are purposefully different from the yam or soy plant chemicals, are known as Premarin, Provera and Prempro. They are approved by the FDA because they are fixed, not individually tailored. Bioidentical hormones offer people the opportunity to have their hormones balanced for them specifically.

How do bioidentical hormones differ from synthetic hormones?

The human body can metabolize bioidentical hormones naturally because once the chemical has been taken from the plant, yam or soy is processed in a way that its’ molecular structure is completely identical to that of the androgen hormones; estrogen and progesterone. Bioidentical hormones provide people with the option to have their hormone supplements individually tailored to fit the person’s unique biological system. Synthetic hormones are mass-produced and have stronger side effects than those of a bioidentical nature. Since they are mass-produced there is no way to individually tailor the amounts. Synthetic hormones are made from the progesterone of plants or the estrogens of animals and are not identical to the hormones found within the human body. What distinguishes synthetic hormones from bioidentical hormones is the molecular structure. The synthetics hormones have an extra covalent bond. The body doesn't recognize or metabolize the synthetic hormones normally and the body may treat them as a toxin.

What exactly is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Bioidentical Hormones are a precise replica of the hormones that are Bioidentically produced by your body. The main difference between Bioidentical Hormones and synthetic hormones is that, although the two are created in labs, synthetic hormones are not necessarily identical to the hormones Bioidentically created in your body and Bioidentical Hormones match your body’s hormones molecule by molecule.

So why should I use Bioidentical Hormone Replacement?

You are likely already using several hormones. Birth Control Pills, Hydrocortisone (used for rashes), and Vitamin D in milk are all methods of hormone replacement. Over the last 100 years as we have doubled our life expectancy, the soft tissue glands which create our hormones are being required to produce them longer than ever. Our increasingly stressful lives, poorer nutrition and absence of proper fitness results in declining ranges of hormones in our bodies as well. Men and women have effectively used Bioidentical Hormones for many years. Men struggling from the signs and symptoms of andropause or women hurting from menopause or perimenopause, can turn to Bioidentical Hormones to replace the Bioidentical hormones that have declined as their bodies have aged. In well known medical journals, researchers have reported that the Bioidentical Hormones, estrogen and testosterone, are not just safe but also have a positive impact on diseases like osteoporosis and prostate cancer.

So why do women need hormones before, during and after menopause?

It doesn’t matter what your actual age, if your female hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) are unbalanced, you may suffer ill-effects including hot flashes, night sweating, sleep problems, moodiness, depression, anxiety,loss of memory, vaginal dryness, fatigue, loss of your sex drive and also an increase in weight. Women with balanced hormones integrated with proper nutrition and fitness can have a higher quality of life as they age.

Why do men need testosterone replacement?

As men age, output of the hormone testosterone starts to decline and so they experience signs and symptoms of low testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for maintaining mental focus, energy, metabolism, muscle mass, fat levels, and sex drive. By balancing a man’s hormones with Bioidentical Hormone therapy, men can restore their vitality and reduce the signs and symptoms of andropause.

When should I consider Bioidentical Hormone therapy?

Generally, your body’s Bioidentical hormones start to decline after your mid-20s and hormone imbalance symptoms are likely to be present by your mid-30s. Men and women often start replacing hormones between the chronological age of 35 and 40. If you are experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, it is best not to wait.

What are the side effects associated with Bioidentical Hormones?

Because Bioidentical Hormones have the identical molecular structure of the hormones made Bioidentically by your body, you will find relatively few side effects. Unwanted side effects occur primarily when the dosage of hormone is too high for the individual.

How long until I see results using Bioidentical Hormones?

While it varies with each individual, and depends on which hormone therapy you are using, you can expect to see results within three to six months. This amount of time is needed to allow for the proper balancing of your hormones.

What is the best age to consider Bioidentical Hormone therapy?

Specialists believe that most people should have their hormones checked by the age of 40 or earlier if they are experiencing symptoms of menopause or andropause. The way to prevent illness and to optimize one’s health is to take an active role in addressing health care risks before they become a problem. Getting tested when you still feel good gives you a benchmark for later comparison when the inevitable happens and your hormones begin to decline.

Are Bioidentical Hormones approved and regulated by the FDA?

The ingredients in Bioidentical Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are approved by the FDA. However, state and local pharmacy boards have jurisdiction over them, not the FDA. It is very important to know you are using the finist quality compounding pharmacy and that they follow the most stringent guidelines and have excellent quality assurance.

Do I need to take these hormones forever?

Not necessarily, it depends on how well your body responds to Bioidentical Hormone therapy. Also important, it’s how well you manage your diet, sleep patterns, exercise, and stress levels that will assist you in regaining hormonal balance. Some patients can wean off various hormones once they become balanced and have fewer symptoms of menopause or andropause.

There are also patients who can wean off adrenal and thyroid support once their adrenals or thyroid glands have healed. There is no single answer for everyone, it depends on your individual hormone stability and how well your diet and lifestyle will support everything else.

In the worst-case scenario, if you decided to stop Bioidentical Hormone therapy, your body would return to the state it was in before initiating your program.

Will Bioidentical Hormone Replacement interfere with my currently prescribed medications?

Generally, no. Some medicines may actually be reduced or no longer needed.

My doctor has prescribed birth control pills; are they considered hormone therapy?

Yes, birth control pills are a type of hormone therapy but are different from Bioidentical Hormone replacement therapy. Birth control pill hormones are synthetic. Synthetic hormones have differences in their chemical structure that are not a replica of the body’s Bioidentical hormones.

How will Bioidentical Hormones help me?

Women suffering from menopause symptoms that are looking to put an end to hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, memory loss, mood swings, weight gain, and low libido are turning to qualified Bioidentical hormone doctors to replace their Bioidentical hormones.

What is the Women’s Health Initiative?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 1991 to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative was designed to define the risks and benefits of using synthetic hormone therapy to potentially prevent heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

It is important to note that the women in this study were all postmenopausal, average age of sixty-eight. This fact is significant as most of these women had 15 years since the loss of their hormones to develop diseases that estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone might have prevented. Most importantly, the study used synthetic hormones and not Bioidentical Bioidentical Hormones.

Why don’t most doctors prescribe Bioidentical Hormones?

Traditional doctors do not usually have the time or the resources to seek expertise in Bioidentical Hormones.

Do I need a prescription for Bioidentical Hormone therapy?

Yes. Bioidentical Hormones are compounded prescription drugs that are produced in a specialized pharmacy. Each prescription is hand made from the highest quality ingredients and made by pharmacists that specialize in formulating drugs. Since every patient is unique, the strength or the dosage form needs to be specially made to fit the individual.

Will hormone therapy help with stress?

High stress levels are very common in individuals with unbalanced hormones. Regulating hormones with Bioidentical Hormone therapy will certainly help to decrease stress levels and increase general feelings of well-being.

My sex drive is low, could it be my hormones?

Yes. A deficiency of testosterone, estrogen, or other types of hormonal imbalance can cause a low libido.

I have severe PMS, could it be my hormones?

Severe PMS symptoms can certainly be the result of a hormonal imbalance. Having your hormones tested can help rule out other causes.

What are the different types of delivery methods for the hormones?

There are several different ways to formulate the medications-the following are some examples:

• Capsules – A standard form of oral delivery.

• Creams – Transdermal methods are widely used to allow absorption of medicine directly through the skin.

• Triturates – Triturates are a popular form used to keep drugs in the mouth when local action is needed.They are generally placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve, allowing the medication to enter the bloodstream quickly and easily.

• Troches – Troches are larger than triturates and are typically dissolved between the gum and cheek.

• Rapid Dissolve Tablets – Rapid dissolve tablets (RDT’s) are the newest technology in dissolvable tablets. They are larger in size meaning they can hold a larger amount of active ingredient. They are designed to dissolve on the tongue and within a very short period of time (under 30 seconds). All delivery systems come in various combinations and flavors to accommodate even our most sensitive clients.

Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones

This document provides a list of the benefits of Bioidentical Hormones and the reasons why they're beneficial.

Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones in Women:

1. Helps restore optimal hormonal balance to the body

2. Menopause symptoms may go away

3. Helps restore bone density and reduces the risk of Osteoporosis

4. Reduces vaginal dryness

5. Helps eliminate hot flashes

6. May help improve sleep patterns

7. May help reduce the risk of heart disease

8. Supports muscle strength and maintenance

9. May help improve memory and concentration

10. May help slow down the aging process overall

11. May help improve healthy cholesterol levels

12. May help enhance sex drive and libido

13. Can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s

14. Helps reduce night sweats

15. Helps restore normal sleep patterns

16. Provides balanced state for healthy fat-burning due to increased lean muscle mass

17. May increases stamina, energy and endurance

18. May help protect against Fibrocystic Breasts

19. May help reduce endometrial and breast cancer

20. May help with Depression

21. Helps improve blood flow

22. May help decrease inflammation and joint pain

23. May help improve skin elasticity

24. May help normalize blood sugar levels

25. Supports immune function

26. May help increase productivity and creativity in personal life

Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones in Men:

1. Helps restore optimal hormonal balance to the body

2. May help men regain vitality

3. May help improve blood flow

4. May help increase lean muscle mass and tone

5. May help improve libido and sexual performance

6. May more effectively treat hypogonadism

7. May stimulate sperm production

8. May help increase energy levels

9. May help improve concentration and memory

10. May help reduce Depression

11. Nourishes all tissues of urinary and reproductive system

12. May help protect against heart disease

13. May improve skin elasticity

14. Encourages bone growth and improves bone density

15. Helps accelerate fat burning

16. Helps improve natural sleep cycles

17. Helps maintain muscle mass

Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones in General:

1. Restores optimal hormonal balance to the body

2. May help regain vitality

3. More effective for some than synthetic hormone replacement therapy

4. Used optimally and safely

5. Absorbed through the skin slowly

6. Fewer interactive problems when taking other medications

7. Restorative towards sleep

8. Less dangerous than synthetic hormone replacement therapy which are known to cause cancers

9. Custom Compounded: Option to have your hormones individually matched and tailored to your blood chemistry and hormones levels

10. Body is able to recognize the hormones as their own and uses them as naturally intended

11. Slows down the aging process!

Our directory of specialists concentrate on a preventive medical approach that helps put an end to suffering and effects caused by stress induced adrenal fatigue, signs of early menopause, menopause, perimenopause and andropause (the male menopause).

Bioidentical hormone doctors can provide you with all of the safety information, answer all your questions, clear up all of your doubts, inform you about symptoms, hormone testing and provide the general guidance you need. You need to be fully informed before making the final decision.

A qualified doctor can provide the possibility of enjoying an active, happy and healthy life, by fighting all of the uncomfortable effects of menopause and hormone imbalance.

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