Restoring Hormonal Balance

Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is the replacement of deficient hormones with hormones that are chemically identical to those that the body naturally produces, but have declined due to aging or illness.

This approach is the same as using people with deficiency in thyroid hormone who are commonly treated by using the “bio-identical” prescription hormone, thyroxine.

BHRT has improved the quality of life for millions of women who suffer from hormonal imbalances such as pre-menopause, peri-menopause, post-menopause, premenstrual syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The process for achieving hormonal balance includes an assessment of hormone levels and evaluation of signs and symptoms, followed by the replacement of deficient hormones in the most appropriate dose via the most effective route for each woman, and monitoring to fine tune the therapy.

Oestrogen

Oestrogen has over 400 functions in the human body including the following:

  • improves sleep
  • increases metabolic rate
  • maintains skin and muscle health
  • maintains urinary health
  • lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow
  • decreases LDL and increases HDL cholesterol,
  • maintains bone density and therefore preventing osteoporosis.

There are three main different forms of oestrogen: oestrone (E1), oestradiol (E2), and oestriol (E3). Often these can be combined for treatment and are labelled as Biest (E2 and E3) or Triest (E1, E2, and E3).

Recent research suggest that transdermal oestrogen therapies (e.g. patch, cream) are effective and have less adverse effects when compared to oral oestrogen intake. Other ways to increase oestrogen levels include moderate exercise, cruciferous vegetables, flax, soy and good quality sleep.

Progesterone

Low levels of progesterone can result in a variety of symptoms including:

  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • weight gain
  • pain and inflammation and
  • osteoporosis.

This can be caused by impaired production by the body or external factors such as stress or high fat and sugar diets.

Progesterone is commonly known as the ‘calming hormone’and is prescribed for peri-menopausal women to balance oestrogen dominance. It minimises the risk of endometrial cancer in women who are using oestrogen, and may also protect against cancer.

Androgens

Androgens are a class of hormones including DHEA and testosterone, which are normally produced in young healthy woman, and are involved in many important processes, including maintenance of libido, as well as integrity of skin, bone, and muscle.

Testosterone levels may decline due to menopause, childbirth, adrenal stress, or oral contraception pills. It is usually only administered transdermally, via implants or injections; whereas DHEA may also be given orally.

The production of DHEA begins to decline by the age of 30, therefore by the age of 70 the body makes only a quarter of what it used to. DHEA is a precursor of testosterone and oestrogen, resulting in reduced bone growth and weight gain.There has been increased awareness of the importance of supplementing androgens for men and women who are deficient.

Holistic Approach

While women have benefited from therapy with oestrogens, progesterone, and androgens that are “chemically identical” to the hormones produced naturally by the human body, this is only one dimension.  Researchers and health care professionals realise that the main goal is optimal health and well-being, not just achieving hormonal balance. A multi-dimensional approach can involve thyroid and adrenal health, appropriate diet, exercise and general activities, as well as sleep quality.  Involvement of a multi-discipline team focussed on an individual patient will also contribute to optimising and individualising optimal health, well-being and performance.