But what exactly is it? We sat down with our very own Dr. Julie Shelley to give you the inside scoop on this incredible treatment that helps both men and women get their groove back and feel their best. Keep reading to find out more.
Q: What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Dr. Julie Shelley: Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a natural alternative to synthetic hormone therapies. The great thing about bioidentical hormones is that the structure of the hormones (both testosterone and estrogen) are matched to your individual needs. These hormones are actually natural, plant-based substances that metabolize in our bodies the way nature intended.
There are several different treatment methods when it comes to administering bioidentical hormone therapy, including creams, oral medications, and pellets. My specific treatment preference is the pellets because they reach a steady state in the bloodstream much better than the creams or oral therapies do. I believe this makes them superior to oral pills and creams. However, in patients that are uncomfortable with pellets, we do have other options such as pills and creams that also work!
Q: Who can benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy? How do I know if it’s right for me?
JS: Both men and women of different ages can benefit tremendously! If you feel like your body is telling you something’s off, or if you are suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, chronic sleepiness, frequent mood swings (including depression or anxiety), low libido, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, or joint pain, these could all be signs of a hormone imbalance.
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you may be an excellent candidate for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Before my initial consultation with patients, I obtain a thorough lab work up, which includes hormone levels. During my initial consultation with each patient, we discuss their lab results, individual wellness goals, and a medical exam is performed to determine the root cause of the patient’s health problems. If hormones are imbalanced and the patient can benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, I create an individualized treatment plan for that patient.
Q: How does the BHRT pelleting procedure work?
JS: Bioidentical replacement hormone pellets are composed of either estradiol (a potent natural estrogen) or testosterone. Size-wise, they’re slightly larger than a grain of rice and smaller than a Tic Tac. We obtain our pellets from a company in Texas that we trust called EvexiPEL. They have a pharmacy that compounds all of their BHRT pellets in-house on their property.
During the pelleting procedure, I will locate the ideal area for insertion, which is either in the gluteal or the flank area. I will sterilize the area first before inserting the pellets, then I’ll make a small incision into that area and insert the pellet underneath the skin. The nice thing about the procedure is that the incision is so small that it doesn’t require any stitches! Typically, we just cover the incision with a Steri-Strip and patients can resume their daily activities. We typically recommend that you avoid submerging the treatment area in water for about 3-4 days and avoid any heavy gluteal exercises for the next 3-4 days.
Q: Why is the pellet treatment preferable?
JS: The reason why I prefer hormone pelleting therapy is because it releases in a nice, steady rate in the bloodstream, unlike the creams or injections. This is most similar to the way your body naturally releases hormones in the body. The pellet method is actually one of the longest-used hormone therapies in the world and has been used since the 1930s. Studies have shown them to be safe and effective, and that’s why I trust them.
Q: How soon will I see results? How often will I need treatments?
JS: Many women who receive pellets will start to feel better in about two to three days, with most experiencing changes in a week or two. Typically in men it takes a little bit longer to feel the effects of the pellets, but most men are feeling better after about two weeks.
As far as maintenance goes, most women will feel their symptoms returning in about three to five months. I recommend they come back in around that time for their next pelleting procedure. Men will typically need pellet therapy every five to six months, so I typically recommend my male patients come in about twice a year.
If bioidentical hormone replacement therapy sounds like something you could benefit from, please reach out and schedule a consultation with us! Dr. Shelley will have you get some lab work done before your formal consultation so that she can better analyze your individual needs and personalize your therapy treatment.