What is Hormone Optimization?
Hormone Optimization is just what it sounds like - optimizing your hormone levels. The focus is on getting your hormones to a 20 to 30 year old level. Not higher. Not lower. At the optimal level. More traditional medical thinking emphasized ensuring “normal” hormone levels for your age but we work to optimize various hormones in your body, using Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). We use hormones that are biologically identical to those in your body, rather than costly and, in my opinion, damaging synthetic hormones to achieve the rejuvenating and invigorating effects of optimizing your hormone levels.
What is the difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormones?
A bioidentical hormone is a natural one that is structurally identical to the hormone that God made and placed in your body. It may be derived from soy or yams and cannot be patented. (Translation: a pharmaceutical company does not make big dollars.) A synthetic hormone is one that is not identical to our natural hormones and can be patented. Because it is not identical to our own God-given natural hormones, it produces effects that are different from the bioidentical hormones.
How do I take the hormones?
Depending on the hormone, one delivery method may be preferable over another based on how well it is absorbed. The options are topical (creams, gels, alcohol-based formulas), oral (tablets, pills, troches), under the tongue (sublingual), injections, or implantable via a minor surgical procedure. The most commonly used are the first three options. It is necessary to ensure consistency by using the medication precisely as prescribed, i.e., at the same time every day, in the proper amount, and with the correct application.
Where can I get these natural hormones?
These hormones are prescribed by a physician (or other provider) and made by a special type of pharmacy, called a compounding pharmacy. This pharmacy can provide you with any medication made by a pharmaceutical company. In addition, they can obtain a pure pharmaceutical grade hormone and compound it into the dose and form ordered specifically for you. The compounding pharmacy specializes in creating these custom medications specifically for you. The compounding pharmacies recommended by our office are only of the highest quality.
When can I stop the hormones and what happens when I do?
You can stop the hormones when you decide you would no longer like the protective effects. The hormone levels will return to baseline (the low level prior to starting hormones) over a period of several months.
What about follow up labs?
Labs are typically repeated until an appropriate level is achieved. Then they are repeated at less frequent intervals. It is important to draw follow up labs 5 hours after the morning dose of medication.
Can I get some of these products at a health food store or Costco? Yes, however, these medications may have several problems:
- The dose available Over-The-Counter (OTC) is often much lower than that of the prescribed variety. That’s why they don’t require a prescription and are available OTC. These lower doses don’t produce a measurable difference in blood tests.
- The OTC medications may be larger in size and not absorbed as well. The pure pharmaceutical grade ingredients from the compounding pharmacy are micronized, which is a fine grain and are well absorbed.
- The OTC products may be quick-release, quick acting and/or poorly absorbed. These are dosed multiple times per day. The natural hormones from a compounding pharmacy can be prescribed as a long acting, or Sustained Release version, which gives a steady release over the course of 24 hours.
- The quality of the OTC medications may be substandard as the base ingredients are often obtained overseas.
- The actual amount of the OTC ingredients may vary considerably from the amount stated on the label.
- The OTC products come in standard dosages, while those from a compounding pharmacy can be customized to your specific needs.