Bio-Identical Hormone Optimization
Bio identical hormones are the essence of life, chemically regulating bodily processes—growth, aging, reproduction and metabolism. As we age, our hormone levels fluctuate and decline. Because we are living longer—but not necessarily better—there is currently much interest in how we might enhance the body’s functions as we grow older by slowing, or preventing, aspects of the aging process.
The decline in hormone production plays a major role in the decline of overall function in the human body. Depletion in testosterone in men leads to a decline in strength and endurance as well as emotional instability. Men also have a lower incidence of dementia, suggesting that testosterone also plays a role in maintaining cognitive function. For women, perimenopause and menopause bring an abrupt decline in essential hormones: estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. Deficiencies of these hormones as well as growth hormone, thyroid hormone, cortisol, melatonin and DHEA all lead to a decline in optimum health and contribute to a loss of cellular integrity that is associated with many of the unpleasant changes in aging bodies. Generalized weakness, poor balance, decreased cognition, sagging skin and aching joints are but a few of these changes. These functional declines match the stereotypes for men and women as we age: grumpy old men and shriveled old women. Balancing and replacing hormones with the bio identical hormone equivalent for both men and women is an effective way to delay some of the unpleasant aspects of aging. In my geriatric fellowship, we were taught that aging is characterized by the body becoming “fatter, drier, shorter, slower.” These physiological changes are considered “normal aging.” However, disease is not necessarily “normal.” Many conditions—such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis, physical weakness, arthritis and chronic pain—are ultimately a result of the choices we make in what we eat, how we live and our declining hormones.
Bio identical hormone therapy is not a cure-all. But in conjunction with positive changes in nutrition and lifestyle, bio identical hormone replacement therapy—the supplementation of hormones to more youthful levels with hormones bio identical to the ones your body makes—can provide a viable alternative to pharmaceutical therapies and can restore people to their former vitality.
In order to achieve balance, it is wise to look at all the main hormones—estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid and pregnenolone—as the hormones work together and need each other to provide maximum benefit. In women, studies suggest that it is important to start bio identical hormone replacement early, as bio identical hormone replacement actually decreases the risk for stroke and heart attack when started prior to the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Why Should I Get Tested?
You want to feel vibrantly alive and optimistic about life, but when your hormones are out of balance, you just don’t feel right — even when you are eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep. Now there is a test that can help you and your doctor balance your hormones for optimal health.
Hormone Balance is the Key to Health
Your hormonal system is like a symphony playing a complex piece of music. If each hormone isn't playing its part, you might feel off-key, start encountering a host of symptoms and disorders, and be at risk for disease. Both men and women can experience hormonal imbalance, which can be caused by inadequate or excessive hormone levels and many other factors. Balanced hormones are the key to well-being. If you have tried to treat certain symptoms but you still don't feel well, it might be time to have your hormones tested.