Bioidentical Hormones: What Women Need to Know

We are hormonal beings. Hormones are powerful and connected to every part of your body in a beautiful, delicate balance. They control many of the body’s essential functions including your mood, energy level, survival instinct, libido, anxiety, and sleep.

For example, when a man’s estrogen goes up, he may get weepy and easily moved to tears. If a woman’s testosterone is too high, she may go into a rage and lose her temper. Unbalanced hormones affect us all and your symptoms are clues to the true cause.

Both men and women have a mixture of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. However, the primary hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone, and in men, testosterone.

A little hormone fluctuation is normal. Estrogen and progesterone have to rise and fall for a woman to menstruate. Testosterone increases during puberty and then levels out in adulthood. These changes are completely normal. But sometimes hormones become unbalanced and the fluctuations irregular.

Bioidentical hormones allow functional medicine doctors like those at Boulder Holistic in Boulder, Colorado to balance your hormones so that your body functions optimally. Keep reading to learn more about bioidentical hormones and how Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine uses integrative medicine to treat hormone imbalances.

What are Bioidentical Hormones?

Hormones are messengers that communicate with our cells. They are created by the endocrine glands and travel through the bloodstream and tissues to control many important functions in the body.

When your functional medicine doctor discovers that your hormone levels are too low or unbalanced, they may suggest you take bioidentical hormones.

Bioidentical hormones are physiologically identical to the hormones found in your body which makes them the perfect natural solution to unbalanced hormones. Many are derived from plants including wild yams, cacti, and soy. The most common hormones synthesized are the three sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Some bioidentical hormones are approved by the FDA and others are not. Bioidentical hormones are compounded or made by a compounding pharmacy. They are a more natural form of hormones tailor-made for you and your unique clinical picture.

How Boulder Holistic Uses Bioidentical Hormones

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado prefers natural bioidentical creams for testosterone and estrogen. The cream mimics your own physiology where the hormones are highest in the morning and slowly taper throughout the day – a smooth curve.

For progesterone, a capsule is often the best option. A progesterone cream doesn’t appear to have the same GABA-energic effects in the brain as the capsule does. Progesterone in an oral capsule binds to the GABA receptors in your brain, leaving you calm and relaxed.

Progesterone and testosterone are generally considered safe when guided by a good functional medicine physician.

Bioidentical hormones for estrogen are used only when absolutely necessary because adding estrogen to the system can increase your risk of disease. The risks and benefits must be weighed carefully with your functional medicine doctor.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine does not use hormone pellets as the dose cannot be adjusted once they are implanted.

Bloodwork is a necessary part of treating unbalanced hormones because your doctor will need to make frequent adjustments to the hormone dosages. The adjustments help your doctor tailor the treatment to your body and ensure that the hormones are not converting to metabolites that are potentially harmful to your health.

What Are Signs That You May Benefit from Bioidentical Hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are most often used for hormonal imbalances related to perimenopause, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, and heavy, irregular, or painful periods.

The three hormones that your functional medicine doctor will check for signs of an imbalance are progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Keep reading to learn the signs of sex hormone imbalance to see if you might be deficient as well as possible causes of your hormone imbalances.

Progesterone

Progesterone is one of the main female hormones. Together estrogen and progesterone control a woman’s menstrual cycle, with predictable fluctuations during each part of the cycle.

Specifically, progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus to hold onto a fertilized egg. A progesterone deficiency can contribute to miscarriage, menstrual irregularities, and mood swings.

Signs that may indicate a need for bioidentical progesterone include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Night Sweats
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful periods
  • Heavy periods

Progesterone deficiency is most commonly caused by adrenal dysfunction or sustained amounts of stress over a period of time. Two days before your period comes, your estrogen and progesterone peak and then drop off. Low estrogen leads to weepiness and low progesterone causes anxiety and anger.

Premenstrual syndrome (more commonly referred to as PMS) is a common occurrence in the days leading up to your period, but if symptoms last longer than two days, you may want to get your hormone levels checked.

If you are experiencing any signs of low or imbalanced progesterone, talk to your provider at Boulder Holistic so we can find the cause!

Estrogen

Estrogen is the other main female hormone. It regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle and supports placenta and fetal development. During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels begin to fluctuate and eventually drop off.

Signs that might indicate a need for bioidentical estrogen include:

  • Weepiness and depression
  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Tender breasts
  • Trouble concentrating or brain fog
  • Amenorrhea (irregular periods)
  • Painful sex
  • Hair loss

Low estrogen levels are typical prior to and during menopause. But estrogen hormone fluctuations can also occur from thyroid issues, stress, too much exercise, a poor diet, or problems with your ovaries. If you are experiencing signs of imbalanced estrogen, talk to your provider at Boulder Holistic so we can investigate further!

Testosterone for Women

While women’s primary sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone, testosterone is an androgen (male hormone) and important for balance in a woman’s body too. Testosterone levels regulate sex drive, muscle growth, mood, and workouts. If your levels of testosterone are low, you may benefit from bioidentical testosterone cream.

Signs that may indicate a woman needs bioidentical testosterone include:

  • Low libido
  • Inability to build muscle mass
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Decreased ability to orgasm in women
  • Increased recovery time in exercise
  • Decreased endurance with exercise

Most commonly, low testosterone is caused by adrenal dysfunction. Testosterone and cortisol (your stress hormone) convert directly to each other. In the presence of sustained adrenal output, or “burning the candle on both ends”, your testosterone will convert to cortisol for you to maintain your cortisol levels.

Because your adrenals are your survival instinct, they take biological precedence. For example, “Forget your libido! The tiger is coming, get up and run!”. If your testosterone is low, your functional medicine doctor will have you do an adrenal panel as well to get to the underlying root cause.

Testosterone levels can also be affected by cancer, pituitary disease, certain medications, alcohol and drug abuse, and testicular injury or infection, although these are rare. If you are experiencing any signs of low or imbalanced testosterone, talk to your doctor at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine so we can investigate further!

Contact Boulder Holistic

Bioidentical hormones are used to balance low or unbalanced hormone levels in both men and women. Functional medicine takes a natural approach to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Your provider at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine will search out the cause of your imbalance and come up with a treatment plan for your unique symptoms.

If you think your hormones might be causing your health problems, contact Boulder Holistic in Boulder, Colorado to schedule a consultation!

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Dr. Terri Rebibo Fox

Dr. Terri Fox is a holistic, integrative, functional medicine doctor in Boulder, Colorado. She works on your behalf as a medical detective searching for the underlying dysfunction, instead of just treating your symptoms. She has expertise in fatigue, bio-identical hormones, sleep disorders, gastro-intestinal dysfunction, and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome from mold toxicity and Lyme disease.

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