As we look for new ways to help people be well, many of us are embracing effective alternatives. An evidence-based approach that blends conventional and holistic medicine is known as integrative medicine. With integrative medicine, practitioners work together as a team to treat the whole person — body, mind and spirit.
One of the many powerful tools of integrative medicine is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or hormone therapy. It’s a proven treatment for hormone imbalances such as those experienced by women going through menopause.
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. Your blood carries hormones to your organs and tissues to help control things like growth, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and even mood.
As we age, our hormone production often shifts. This change can cause a shortage of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen in women experiencing menopause. And testosterone levels can drop in both men and women.
About 80 percent of patients with a hormone imbalance are women and 20 percent are men. Women may notice hormone imbalance symptoms starting in their late 30s or 40s. For men, the symptoms may appear in their late 40s or early 50s.
Hormone imbalances can lead to symptoms such as:
Your health care clinician or an integrative medicine professional can diagnose hormone imbalances you may have with a simple saliva or blood test.
If you have a hormone imbalance, your clinician will determine if there’s an underlying issue such as a thyroid issue. If there isn’t an underlying issue, your clinician may suggest a proven treatment for a hormone imbalance.
Depending your specific imbalance, we’ll prepare a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy cream. It’s called bioidentical because the hormones are chemically identical to the hormones your body produces.
We can include multiple hormones in the therapy cream to address the specific imbalances you may have. We’ll start with a low dosage of the needed hormones. As needed, we can increase dosages to ensure beneficial treatment.
You’ll apply the cream to your skin as directed. The hormones will be comfortably absorbed through the skin.
Depending on your body’s needs, we may include a type of estrogen that can be protective against breast cancer. Other bioidentical hormones can bolster protection against heart disease.
If there’s not a medical condition underlying hormone imbalance, most patients can take the bioidentical hormone therapy for the long term.
Most users notice an improvement in their symptoms in a couple of weeks. You can discuss your specific treatment plan with your clinician.
By relieving menopausal hormone imbalance symptoms such as night sweats, many patients say they sleep better. And your sexual relations can become more comfortable with HRT treatment for vaginal dryness. HRT is approved as a treatment to prevent osteoporosis or bone loss.
Hormone replacement therapy can also resolve low testosterone in both women and men. For women, testosterone plays a role in producing new blood cells, reproduction and libido. Women and men who receive treatment for low testosterone often say they feel more energetic.
If you’ve noticed symptoms that hormone replacement therapy may be able to treat, find an Integrative Medicine Center near you or speak with your health care professional.
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