FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BIO-IDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
What is BHRT?
BHRT stands for Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (Customized Hormone Replacement). The hormones are derived from yam and/or soy. Once extracted from their natural source, the hormones are refined so that they are identical to the human hormone molecule. BHRT fits the body’s receptor like a “key in a lock”. Additionally, our body has the right enzymes to break down and metabolize the hormones properly and efficiently.
What is the difference between BHRT and synthetic HRT?
HRT stands for Hormone Replacement Therapy. It differs from BHRT in the type of hormone(s) used. Any type of hormone may be prescribed in HRT. Most commonly, physicians will use either hormones extracted from the urine of pregnant horses, or hormones assembled in a laboratory. Neither type is identical to the human hormone molecule. The improper ratios and different chemical structures account for treatment failures and the potential for side effects.
What is the difference between Over-the-Counter (OTC) herbal products and BHRT?
OTC products are “plant estrogens”. They are not identical to the human hormone molecule. These products (soy, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, etc.) are aimed at symptom control for the “peri-menopausal” patient. They do not typically control symptoms for the menopausal patient, nor do they help with long-term protection from disease states (cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s/dementia or colon cancer).
Will I gain weight?
Women going through menopause gain an average of 10 pounds. Women on synthetic hormones typically gain 20+ pounds. Women on BHRT typically gain less than 10 pounds. The idea of BHRT is to maintain proper hormone balance thus enabling the body to slow the aging process.
Will I get my period again once I start taking BHRT?
Once a woman has gone 12 or more months without a period, generally, her period will not return. We cycle our peri-menopausal patients, which helps periods fluctuating from every 2 weeks to 4 months, become more regular. The periods will get lighter and eventually taper off as the patient gets older. Our Cycle Pak ä therapy allows a woman’s period to stop on its own, without forcing a cycle or suppressing the cycle. This allows our patients to age naturally while optimizing their health potential.
Will it help with my sex drive?
Many factors affect the sex drive during the aging process. Keeping the hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) in balance and optimal levels may play a role in maintaining a healthy sex drive. Customized Testosterone Replacement Therapy works well for both women and men. The most common dosage form is a topical cream. We also make sure our patients’ adrenal and thyroid glands are functioning properly. Many symptoms of low adrenal and or low thyroid function are similar to low testosterone.
Will BHRT help with my hair loss?
Proper endocrine balance may help with hair, skin and nail health. This includes estrogen/progesterone and testosterone balance, and also includes proper thyroid and adrenal function. Approximately 10% of patients with “normal” thyroid labs may experience fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, dry hair, brittle nails and other low function related symptoms. We try to target optimal levels that fall within the wider range of “normal” values. We often use nutritional supplements to help optimize thyroid and adrenal function.
How soon should I be able to tell a difference after I start taking BHRT?
On average, most people begin to feel a difference within the first month or two of BHRT therapy. We ask that you stay on the same prescription for about 75 days and then we can help you re-evaluate with a follow-up consultation or review if necessary. You should always feel free to ask the pharmacy staff any questions you may have regarding your prescription(s) and or nutritional products.
Can I get BHRT anywhere?
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy has to be compounded. Although all pharmacies may compound, not all pharmacies do. South River Compounding Pharmacy & Wellness Center is a Compounding-only pharmacy. We have a 750 square foot laboratory, special equipment, USP pharmaceutical grade chemicals, specially trained pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, all dedicated to assuring each and every prescription is made exactly as prescribed for each individual patient, one patient at a time.
Does insurance cover the prescription?
We are able to bill many insurance companies electronically for compounds such as BHRT, but plans vary greatly from carrier to carrier. You can check with your Rx insurance carrier to see what part of compounding is covered by your particular plan.
How do I get started?
- Step 1: Lab Tests: Levels for the 4 sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA-S) should be tested. You can have this done through a blood test ordered by your practitioner (often covered under insurance), or via a saliva test kit available for purchase at South River.
- Step 2: Personal Consultation: Once your lab results are in, you will be able to meet with one of our Pharmacists to review your detailed health history and the results. This 1-hour interactive session includes discussion of your symptoms, any other health issues, and lifestyle. The Consultant will use this information to recommend a personalized compounded prescription to your practitioner for approval. And, you may discuss any appropriate diet or lifestyle changes.
- Step 3: Compounded Prescription: Our pharmacy staff carefully prepares each prescription according to exact standards. Your prescription will be ready for you approximately 2-3 business days after receiving approval from your practitioner. The pharmacist will answer any questions you have about the prescription and how you should take it.
Do I need a prescription?
Yes, a prescription is needed for us to compound BHRT for a patient. The prescription may be phoned, faxed, or mailed in to the pharmacy.
Which doctors prescribe BHRT?
Most physicians may prescribe Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. For example, we work with: Primary Care Physicians, Family Practitioners, Nurse Practitioners, General Practitioners, Internists, OB/GYN, and Endocrinologists.
How long do I need to take it?
The answer is indefinitely. If we look at quality of life as we age the quality starts to decline around 35-40 years old. This correlates with the time ones hormone levels begin to decline and become unbalanced. By maintaining proper hormone levels and balance, the quality of life improves. In addition you will increase your protection against: Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and Colon Cancer. Our goal for each patient is optimal health.
What other supplements should I take with the BHRT?
At South River Compounding Pharmacy, we recommend a high quality, high potency Multi-Vitamin Mineral Complex, Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, proper Anti-Oxidant support, and a correct balance of Calcium/Magnesium/Vitamin D along with other bone supporting nutrients.
Why do I feel so much better on BHRT?
We are replacing the same exact hormones that are in your system. When following labs and symptoms, we can fine-tune a patient’s therapy. We give the patient the right combination and the right levels they need. Thus, not giving too much, nor too little. We continue to monitor our patients and make adjustments as necessary. We are able to maintain 95% of our patients on therapy. Plainly stated, they just simply feel better. Our patients tell us they “feel normal” again.