What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement?
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy replaces deficient hormones with hormones that are identical in chemical and molecular structure to the hormones produced in the human body. The fragile network of hormones work together to stimulate and maintain several bodily functions that are necessary for life. Aging, stress, poor dietary choices, or a lack of exercise can all contribute to hormone decline. The main hormones that are affected by hormone decline include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, and melatonin. All of these hormones are found in both men and women, and can become imbalanced at any age.
Estrogen is a sex hormone that is made by the ovaries in women and by the adrenal glands in men. It is associated with sexual function, bone health, and many functions that maintain appearance. Estrogen helps to keep hair and nails healthy and lustrous, and helps to build collagen, which helps skin to maintain its elasticity. Symptoms of estrogen deficiency may include dry hair, brittle nails, wrinkles, vaginal dryness, fatigue, and osteoporosis.
Progesterone is another sex hormone that takes part in pregnancy, menstruation, and the formation of embryos. Before menopause, progesterone is made in the ovaries, and after menopause, it is made by the adrenal glands. Progesterone is responsible for many functions in the body, which may include regulating moods, preventing anxiety and irritability, regulating sleeping patterns, and balancing estrogen. Symptoms of progesterone decline may include low libido, depression, mood swings, anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, heavy menstrual periods, migraine headaches, and increased inflammation.
Testosterone is known to be mostly present in males; however, it is also produced in smaller amounts in females. In women, testosterone is made mainly by the adrenal glands, but the ovaries also supply miniscule amounts of testosterone. Testosterone controls a number of functions in the human body, and deficiencies can lead to a number of health issues. Testosterone deficiency can be caused by adrenal fatigue, childbirth, chemotherapy, depression, endometriosis, and psychological trauma. Symptoms of testosterone decline may include fatigue, extreme emotional sensitivity, weight gain, loss of pubic hair, thinning dry hair, low libido, muscle atrophy, high LDL, which is bad cholesterol, and decreased muscle tone.
DHEA is responsible for the production of estrogen and testosterone, and it is a sex hormone produced mainly by the adrenal glands. During a man or woman’s 20’s, DHEA is abundant, but by the age of 70, the body only makes one quarter of the amount of DHEA it made during the 20’s. DHEA deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors such as, aging, menopause, smoking, and stress. All of these factors affect the body’s capability to produce healthy amounts of DHEA, and symptoms of DHEA deficiencies can include fatigue, muscle atrophy, weight gain, irritability, joint pain, lowered immunity, and feeling overwhelmed with stress.
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and it is the only hormone that increases with age. It is produced by the adrenal glands, along with all other sex hormones after the ovaries or testicles stop hormone production. After a long period of time with increased cortisol levels, the adrenals can stop producing adequate amounts of cortisol. This can impair many functions that rely on cortisol. When cortisol is deficient in the body, a person may experience increased allergies, lower libido, slow wound healing, low thyroid function, digestive issues, feeling overwhelmed, low blood pressure, and low blood sugar.
Melatonin functions to set the body’s cycles and helps to cause drowsiness when it is time to sleep and to wake the body up by setting the internal clock. Imbalances in melatonin affect the sex hormones because they are involved in the body’s cycles and functions; however, melatonin deficiencies mostly affect the functioning of testosterone and growth hormone. Andropause, menopause, and perimenopause are the times when most women and men experience melatonin deficiencies, and symptoms of insomnia, cancer, accelerated aging, or poor moods may be indicators that melatonin levels are low.