Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Natural hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, are produced in various glands throughout the body. These hormones regulate an enormous range of body functions. When our glands under or over produce hormones, we begin to experience symptoms like those listed above.
Bio-Identical hormones are hormones derived from plants. They are chemically identical to those the human body. Bio-Identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) uses these hormones to help address symptoms related to hormonal imbalance. BHRT most often seeks to increase or balance the hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and adrenal hormones.
Treatment includes a comprehensive review of a patient’s current hormone levels, healthy history, and needs. According to this detailed information, a doctor will prescribe a customized treatment plan that may include creams, gels, or capsules. The length of treatment also depends on your individual needs and how you are feeling – some people may require hormone therapy indefinitely while others many only need hormones until their symptoms have subsided.
Through state-of-the-art diagnostic hormone testing, using blood testing, we can determine your hormone levels and your unique bio-identical hormone needs. Our process includes:
- A comprehensive review of symptoms, medical, family and personal history
- Testing - blood laboratory analysis
- Natural hormone balancing
- Ongoing evaluations
- Quality compounded pharmacy
- Highest quality supplements
- Fitness planning
- Nutrition planning
- Weight Loss evaluation
Initially, you will need comprehensive lab panels to assess your body functions and your hormone levels. After that, a treatment plan can cost between $250 and $500 a month. Bio-identical hormone therapy has a few potential side effects which are classically linked to dosage—as your hormone levels improve, your dosage may need to be adjusted. If you notice side effects, contact your physician. These side effects might include increased acne or irritability for men and women. Women may experience breast tenderness, spotting, cramping, and bloating. These side effects tend to wear off as hormone levels balance. It is vitally important to work with professionals such as doctors affiliated with Live Oak Pharmacy who are proficient in evaluating and treating symptoms and are passionate about creating a relationship that insures their patients receive the best care possible.
Q. Is BHRT Different from Other Hormone Replacement Therapies?
According to a report produced for the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, patients report greater satisfaction with bio-Identical hormone therapy than with a therapy that uses a synthetic hormone.
“Bio-Identical hormones have some distinctly different, potentially opposite, physiological effects compared with their synthetic counterparts, which have different chemical structures,” states the report. Physiological and clinical data have indicated that a bioidentical hormone is associated with a diminished risk for breast cancer, compared with the increased risk associated with synthetic hormone, notes the report.
“Physiological data and clinical outcomes demonstrate that bio-identical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts,” states the report.
Furthermore, the FDA has approved certain bio-identical hormones, and your physician might rely on these, or develop a therapy specific to your needs, consulting with a compounding pharmacy to develop the right dose unique to you. For this reason, it’s crucial that you work with the Pharmacist at Live Oak Pharmacy who is trained in developing the right formulation for you and to continually assess your response to therapy.
Live Oak Pharmacy can help you alleviate a wide range of hormonal imbalance symptoms including:
- Weight gain
- Limited energy
- Hair loss
- Low sex drive
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Memory loss
As noted above, menopause or andropause might be the root cause behind these symptoms. At the same time, environmental and dietary toxins can upset hormonal imbalance or make existing hormonal imbalance worse. If symptoms like these have begun to affect your quality of life, you could be a candidate for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
You may want to consider BHRT if you’re experiencing conditions or diseases that result from an imbalance of hormones, such as:
- Adrenal fatigue
- Thyroid disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Sexual dysfunction
The good news, for both men and women, is that hormonal balance can be achieved, as long as you are evaluated by a particularly skilled physician — including comprehensive lab testing and in-depth initial questionnaires — prior to a highly trained Pharmacist creating a personalized treatment plan.
Q. What can I expect once I've become a patient?
Upon becoming a patient, the Live Oak Pharmacy team will order the necessary labs for your visit, book your initial consultation, and send you an email with instructions on the steps necessary to prepare for your first appointment.
The order for your serum blood lab will be emailed to you. To complete this order, visit a local Quest Lab. You can find the location nearest you at Quest Diagnostics.com.
You will need to complete the online medical history and all necessary lab tests prior to your first appointment. Once your practitioner receives your test results, a pharmacy representative will contact you to confirm your first appointment.
A few weeks after your initial physician's appointment and lab testing, a pharmacy representative of will contact you to schedule your subsequent pharmacy appointment. This appointment will allow your pharmacist to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments for achieving optimal results and hormone balance. As you move forward on the program, phone calls at two week intervals will be scheduled to discuss your progress, make any necessary adjustments to your prescriptions, and discuss any concerns or successes you may have at this point in your treatment.
Q. What are bio-identical hormones?
Bio-Identical Hormones are an exact structural replica of the hormones that are naturally produced by the body. The difference between bio-identical hormones and synthetic hormones is that, although both are created in labs, synthetic hormones are not identical to the hormones naturally created in your body while bio-identical hormones match human hormones molecule by molecule.
Depending on what your symptoms are and which hormone(s) your body needs, the pharmacist at Live Oak may choose to request your physician to prescribe bio-identical hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, DHEA, melatonin, or others as needed.
Q. What is the difference between bio-identical and synthetic hormones?
The difference between bio-identical hormones and synthetic hormones is dual fold. Unlike bio-identical hormones, synthetic, or conventional, hormones may be patented by pharmaceutical companies; therefore dosage varies only by milligrams dictated by your doctor, while the molecular structure of the prescribed hormone is the same for every single person on that drug. Additionally, synthetic hormones are not created structurally the same as human endogenous hormones, which often leads uncomfortable side effects. While synthetic hormones can mimic the effects of endogenous hormones on certain biological pathways, they rarely offer the same effectiveness at a deeper, molecular level.
Bio-Identical hormones mimic the affinity of human endogenous hormones; therefore they are effective on more biological pathways, at all levels. Because bio-identical hormones are an exact structural replica of endogenous hormones, side effects are rarely observed, and in the event you do experience side effects, talk with your doctor—the dosage may simply need to be adjusted. The added benefit of bio-identical hormones is that each dose is tailored specifically for your needs, not simply what doses the pharmaceutical company offers (as is the case with synthetic hormones.)
Q. Why do women need hormones before, during and after menopause?
Hormones affect a multitude of pathways in the body. Women may experience fluctuations in their hormone levels throughout the lifespan. Imbalances can occur due lifestyle and environmental factors, as well as expected changes, such as onset of menses, pregnancy, childbirth, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Imbalances of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can lead to many uncomfortable experiences, like night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, depression, and anxiety. The most common decline seen in menopausal and post-menopausal women is estrogen. When estrogen levels become unbalanced, women may experience symptoms such as low libido and bone loss. The bone loss that women experience due to declining estrogen levels can lead to osteoporosis and increase the likelihood of bone fractures. Adjustments to a woman’s hormone levels through bio-identical hormone therapy and lifestyle changes can reduce or eliminate these discomforts and improve overall health and well-being.