It’s happening right now to 65 million women in the United States, and it will eventually happen to all females. Beyond the age of 30-35, your body’s production of hormone begins to decrease at a significant rate. With that can come fatigue, weight gain, night sweats, reduced memory, depression, anxiety, irritability, joint pain and diminished sex drive. What’s a girl to do?
The debate over exactly how to treat depleting hormones as we age has been raging for years. Until recently, the typical treatment was synthetic hormone replacement; Premarin was the most widely used, becoming the best-selling drug in America in 2001.
But there has been a backlash against non-natural therapies, especially after the study into these drugs was abruptly halted in July 2002. The study had proven that drugs such as Premarin and Provera (another synthetic hormone drug) were unsafe and significant factors in increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer in the more than 16,000 women studied.
After this finding, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology developed new guidelines that encouraged physicians to prescribe the drugs in lower doses for shorter periods of time. But many doctors and women themselves began turning to bioidentical, or natural hormones.
Even Oprah Winfrey addressed the issue in January 2009 show that featured Dr. Christiane Northrup and actress Suzanne Somers, who has been preaching the wonders of bioidentical hormones for years.
“By replacing my hormones with bioidentical hormones, I got my life back,” Somers said, : I got my health back , I got my figure back, I got my happiness back. Everything in my life is better.”
Khym Zarzuela, D.O., medical director at HWC of Texas in Austin, has seen the same results in his own patients.
“HWC specializes in Bio-Identical Hormone Treatment in the form of implantable subcutaneous pellets,” he said. “The hormones are yam-based and modified to the exact chemical composition of the body’s own hormones. Contrast this to a popular synthetic estrogen, Premarin, which is extracted and purified from horse urine.”
Although it’s rapidly becoming more popular in the United States, bioidentical pellet therapy isn’t new. The procedure has been around since the 1930’s, and it has been used in Europe and South America more extensively. Derived from natural sources such as yams or soy, AmoreVie Bio-Identical hormones provide a safe and natural alternative to women and men with low levels of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
The procedure takes only three to five minutes in the office, with just a small amount of local anesthetic. According to Zarzuela, recovery time is instant, and patients notice improvements within two to three weeks.
“I just did an implant procedure on an 89 year old, and she was up out of the table with no after effects, “he said. “All patients will experience some soreness after the anesthesia wears of, but it is not debilitating and resolves after two days.
“Improvements in exercise tolerance and mental clarity is usually gradual. By addressing their chronic fatigue and increasing their activity and exercise, they are becoming more involved in a healthier lifestyle’”
Bonnie Welles will gladly testify to this. She has only been undergoing HWC’s treatment, which isn’t available anywhere else, for three weeks.
“I already feel better than I have in three years, since I had my hysterectomy,” Welles said.
And when you know the 57 year old woman’s background, you realize this is a big statement. After her hysterectomy, Welles suffered from two blood clots and doctors found that she had a chromosome mutation that necessitated the use of blood thinners.
“The doctor told me I could never take synthetic hormones because they’ve been found to increase the risks of blood clots,” she said.
Yet her post-menopausal and hysterectomy symptoms grew worse. Welles suffered extreme insomnia, hot flashes, depression and weight gain of 30 pounds; her cholesterol began to rise and her bone density went down.
“My health was just in a downward spiral,” she says. She was given several prescriptions to deal with the symptoms, but nothing fixed the problem.”
After hearing about HWC Medical Center and the bioidentical hormone therapy, Welles did some research and decided to cautiously try it.
“I’ve always subscribed to the belief that natural is better,” she said, “and I wanted to opt for a better quality of life.”
Her results were immediate: Her energy improved, she slept solidly and she went off her Ambien and Lexapro, “it’s amazing,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been reborn.”
Like all HWC patients, Welles began with a personalized consultation, followed by a blood test to determine the right individual treatment plan. During the procedure, a small area of the lateral buttocks is anesthetized, a tiny incision is made and the rice-grain-sized pellets are inserted into the subcutaneous fat. The area is covered with a small dressing, and the patient is released to go back to normal daily activity.
Most patients have ongoing blood tests and hormone inserts about every three months.
“By diagnosing the problem as hormone deficiency and treating it, we can improve the symptoms of many of our patients, allowing them to lead more fulfilling lives,” Zarzuela said, “ By giving our patients their energy back, we can then encourage them to pursue healthier lifestyles and thus, lead them into the lives they were meant to have.”