Specialist Answers 4 FAQs About Hormone Replacement
Of the many truisms offered by the Ancient Greeks, the benefits of moderation and balance in life is one of the most enduring. Unfortunately, maintaining biological balance as we age beyond midlife can be almost impossible – at least, without appropriate intervention, says Dr. Steven Hotze.
“People accept that our hormones slowly diminish as we age, but it has taken the mainstream medical community a very long time to accept that our hormonal imbalances cause age-related health problems,” says Dr. Hotze, founder of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, (www.hotzehwc.com), and author of Hormones, Health and Happiness.
“Fifteen years ago, the concept of hormone replacement therapy was widely considered almost avant-garde. Today, hormone-replacement medicine for ‘Low T,’ or low testosterone, is all the buzz.”
But not all hormone replacement therapies are equal – or good for you, says Dr. Hotze.
Here are his answers to some frequently asked questions.
- “Is hormone replacement therapy dangerous?” We hear plenty in the media about how the therapy is linked to breast and prostate cancer, but what is not mentioned is the distinction between synthetic and bioidentical hormones. The latter have the same molecular structure as the hormones that are found naturally in the body, which means bioidentical hormone treatments cannot hurt patients. Counterfeit hormones – those that do not perfectly match the molecular structure of hormones in one’s body – can be dangerous.
- “I’ve had many tests and tried many treatments for my problems. If they were hormone-related, wouldn’t have that been discovered before now?” Physicians can’t and shouldn’t rely solely on lab tests for diagnoses and pharmaceutical drugs for treatment. A very thorough patient history and evaluation of symptoms, in addition to standard diagnostic tests, can reveal an underlying hormonal problem.
- “My blood test indicated nothing irregular, but I suffer symptoms including fatigue, anxiety and weight gain; what’s going on?” Blood tests can lie – patients do not. If you have symptoms, but your physician tells you your blood work came back “normal,” specifically regarding your thyroid, you should realize that 95 percent of people tested fall within a range considered normal. However, that doesn’t mean it is normal for you! Also, remember, you can send the same blood to two different labs and get two different results.
- Are women more prone to hypochondria? My physician cannot link my symptoms to a cause … No, it’s not “all in your head.” Women tend to be more attentive to their body for good reason – the menstrual cycle causes women to experience different hormonal states almost on a daily basis. Women can also experience dramatic physical effects during menopause, when hormones drop significantly. The dramatic physical changes can occur at multiple points. After childbirth is increasingly common, as well.
“A lot of the symptoms we normally associate with aging – muddied thinking, weight gain, tiring easily – are actually occurring because of diminished hormone production,” Hotze says.
“Hormone replacement therapy using bioidentical hormones can actually make some patients feel young again!”