First things first: What IS Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
The term "Bio-Identical" refers to the chemical structure of the hormones used in the treatment. Essentially, it means that the molecular structure of the hormones used in BHRT contains the same compounds as Hormone Replacement Therapy, and therefore, elicit similar results.
If the hormones in BHRT are "identical" to standard Hormone Replacement Therapy, how can one be safer than the other?
While the molecular structure of these two treatment options is identical, the manner in which they are produced is different. Typically, Hormone Replacement Therapy utilizes hormones that have been synthesized in a lab, while Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy only uses compounds that exist naturally in plants or animals. It is important to distinguish that even Bio-Identical Hormones are typically compounded in pharmacies for specific dosages that fit a patient's needs. However, this does not mean that they are being synthesized. It simply means that pharmacies are taking naturally occurring hormones and "packaging" them into dosages that yield optimum results. These dosages can be compounded into two main forms: pellets and creams.
What is the difference between BHRT pellets and BHRT creams?
Pellets are administered subcutaneously using a procedure called a BHRT insert. Essentially, a very small incision (comparable to the width of the tip of a pencil, and about 2-3 inches in length) is made on either the left or right buttock. Once the pellets are inserted, the incision is sterilized and bandage for 2-3 days. Over the next 7-10 days, your body will begin to metabolize the pellets and your symptoms will begin to improve. Typically, pellet inserts are done every 6-9 weeks for males, and every 10-12 weeks for females.
Creams are compounded by a pharmacy, and self applied 2-3 times per day on each of the arms. Typically the creams are prescribed in 60 day increments so the provider can track the overall progress of the patient and how they respond to the prescribed dose.
How Do I Know If I Should Try Pellets or Creams?
The best way to make your decision on pellets inserts vs. BHRT creams vs. synthetic hormones to contact your licensed medical provider. Hormones can be tricky and the more information you can gather...the better. Another reason (outside of overall health) to contact a licensed medical provider is that all patients respond to Hormone Therapies in different ways. Varying metabolic rates, starting levels, health and history, hypothyroidism, body composition, trying different types of hormone therapy, diet and exercise, and even stress levels, can all affect how a patient responds to treatment. It is important to track and account for all of these factors before pursuing Hormone Therapy of any kind.
In summation, BHRT has proven to be very effective at improving symptoms related to hormone dysfunction. You can use the information in this article to consult with your medical provider and make an informed decision on which treatment option may be best for you.