As we age, hormone levels will naturally decline, which can cause significant changes in the body such as lack of energy, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, and loss of libido. This is the time when the stages of menopause become evident in your life. You may have even tried to take synthetic hormones prescribed by your primary care physician to alleviate your symptoms, but did not respond well to the treatment. Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) prescribed by Dr. Karen Leong, is a natural hormone replacement therapy administered to balance hormone levels (with fewer side effects than synthetic hormones), and to improve symptoms. BHRT also helps to reduce the risks of certain diseases associated with aging, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. Synthetic hormones are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. These drugs do not share the same molecular structure as human hormones. They also introduce foreign substances into your body that produce toxic by-products, which can cause a wide array of side effects and more serious conditions. Many women report that the side effects from synthetic hormones can end up being worse than the hormone imbalance.
You deserve a hormonal treatment that is natural and is derived from plants biologically identical to the molecular structure of the hormones found in your body. BHRT is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy, particularly because of studies showing the long-term health benefits of reducing the risks of certain diseases. If you would like more information on how to get started or if you are a candidate, schedule a consultation at either our Upland or Newport Beach, CA locations with Dr. Leong.
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While most women know quite a bit about menopause, many don’t realize that significant hormonal changes begin years before you experience changes in your menstrual cycle. Perimenopause typically begins between your 30’s and 40’s and about 8 – 10 years ahead of when you will enter menopause. Perimenopause is marked by a drop in estrogen, which is the main female hormone produced by the ovaries. The estrogen levels can also fluctuate up or down more than a normal 28-day cycle, which can cause irregular periods and other symptoms, such as
- Sleep issues (insomnia, inability to fall or stay asleep)
- Anxiety/heart palpitations/heart racing
- Changes in the period (heavier or lighter)
- Weight gain (especially in the tummy area)
- Loss of muscle
- Vaginal dryness, yeast infections
- Headaches or migraines
- Inability to focus
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Diminished mental acuity
As you progress towards menopause, estrogen levels will continue to decline. The phase of menopause can last for as little as a few months and as long as four years. Although both stages are part of the same overall life transition, perimenopause and menopause have differences in terms of symptoms and treatment options. As with any abnormal symptoms, it is recommended that you see your OB-GYN. During menopause, you may experience (in addition to the symptoms above):
- Problems with cognitive functions
- Bladder problems (overactive bladder, incontinence, prolapse)
- Musculoskeletal complications (brittle bones)
- Thinning of skin and hair
- Hot flashes
- Emotional instability and mental disorders
- Changes in your period (frequency)
Bioidentical hormone therapy can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause, as well as help reduce the risks of diseases such as breast and bladder cancer, diabetes, stroke, and dementia.
Dr. Leong requires an initial consultation to review your medical history and current symptoms. Upon completion of your first visit, you will be required to have extensive lab work done prior to your next visit. Results of these tests will be reviewed with you in person along with recommendations for treatment. Once you begin your BHRT, we will need to see you approximately every three months to evaluate the effectiveness in managing your original symptoms. We will re-prescribe as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main benefits of BHRT?
There is a long list of benefits resulting from bioidentical hormone usage. Many patients are finally able to shed unwanted weight, a common problem among women over 40. Lower estrogen can make it harder to lose weight and easier to gain because the body holds onto excess fat in an attempt to preserve estrogen, which is stored in fat cells. Other wonderful benefits of BHRT include:
- Having more energy, drive, and mental focus
- Sleeping with fewer interruptions from night sweats, hot flashes, and urinary urgency
- Experiencing a renewed sexual libido and improvement in overall sexual health
- Increasing your overall bone density
- Managing your weight, muscle development, and may reduce visceral fat
- Lowering your risks of acquiring diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and dementia
Can I use BHRT if I have polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is mainly the result of a hormone imbalance, so BHRT is potentially one of the best treatments for managing the symptoms associated with it. PCOS is a health problem that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. With PCOS, the egg in the ovary may not be released as it should be, or may not develop properly, and women often experience missed or irregular periods. These missed or irregular periods may lead to cysts on the ovaries. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Excessive hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
Will I have to take these hormones forever?
As you are entering post-menopause, you may be able to taper off your hormone dosage until you no longer need BHRT. As your body ages, you can expect it to have some trouble rebounding and retaining a balanced hormone level. If you start bioidentical therapy under the age of 30, there is a high probability (greater than 90% chance) that you will be able to stop the treatment and still maintain balanced hormones. After age 35, you have a 50% chance of successfully weaning off BHRT. Once you are 50 years old and up, there is a strong likelihood that you will be on the treatment for the rest of your life.
How do you know the right dose?
Natural hormone treatment can be tried at low doses to see if there are some noticeable side effects with no side effects before increasing dosage.
How are these hormones produced?
BHRT is prepared at a compounding pharmacy with unique mixes of natural ingredients to match the hormones you are missing at the levels you need them. Synthetic hormone replacement therapies are mass-produced.
Plan Your Procedure
Reclaim Your Vitality
Start the path to reclaim your vitality today! Virtual and in-office consultations are available for this BHRT. This type of therapy can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause, as well as help reduce the risks of diseases such as breast and bladder cancer, diabetes, stroke, and dementia. If you would like to learn more, please contact any of our locations for an appointment with Dr. Leong.