When someone is overly emotional or irrational, people often say they are being hormonal, giving hormones an unfairly negative connotation. The truth of the matter is that hormones are a crucial part of your biology and serve a multitude of functions. A hormonal imbalance or deficiency can cause serious issues that can affect the quality of your life. In order to solve this problem, a doctor can prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to those who are deficient, which can be administered in a variety of ways.
Up until recently, the primary delivery mechanisms for hormone replacement, either testosterone or estradiol, have been transdermal creams or gels and subcutaneous or intramuscular injections. However, another option has gained popularity: hormone pellet therapy. Pellets remove the hassle of daily or weekly injections or daily cream or gel application while keeping hormone levels steady and minimizing side effects. Whether it's a physiological issue that has caused the imbalance or deficiency or just aging, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be the key to getting your life back and feeling like you again. Let's discuss hormone pellet therapy and see why so many people choose it.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy previously referred exclusively to women replacing estrogen lost through menopause and post-menopause. The term is more general and relates to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), typically used in men. Still, there are circumstances in which a woman would undergo testosterone replacement therapy as well. HRT treats symptoms in women like vaginal atrophy, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, accelerated skin aging, sexual dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, and bone loss. While in males, symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and lack of mental acuity. In addition, studies show that optimal testosterone levels in men can be a preventative for diseases like certain cancers, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease.
What are bioidentical hormones?
The biostation uses bioidentical hormones in our hormone replacement therapies. First of all, what are hormones exactly? Hormones are chemicals produced by various glands in the body. Hormones function as messengers that signal other parts of the body what to do and when. Hormones control nearly every bodily process. Sex and brain function, digesting food, and growth are all examples of the processes hormones control. If you have an imbalance or deficiency of a hormone, it can cause an interruption or incompletion of these processes.
Bioidentical hormones are artificial hormones that are very similar to hormones the body produces naturally. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy typically seeks to balance progesterone, estrogen, or testosterone in individuals with an imbalance or deficiency. Bioidentical hormones can be manufactured by a pharmaceutical company or by compounding when the HRT is custom formulated by a pharmacist based on the doctor's prescription. The FDA has preparations for bioidentical progesterone and estradiol, which are the same molecular structure as naturally occurring hormones. The FDA thoroughly tests these methods for safety as well as identical hormone levels per dose. Bioidentical hormones seem to be safer with fewer side effects than regular synthetic hormone replacement therapy.
What is hormone pellet therapy?
A hormone pellet contains bioidentical hormones derived from the plant material and is molecularly identical to the naturally occurring hormones. They vary in size but are roughly the size of a grain of rice. These pellets are surgically inserted into the fatty tissue underneath your skin, typically around the hip area, but this can vary. The doctor numbs the patient's skin using a local anesthetic and then makes a small incision in the skin. The pellets (there can be several depending on the hormone used and dosage needed) are then inserted under the skin one at a time until all pellets have been implanted.
Usually, this procedure only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and no restrictions on activity are needed afterward. These pellets then slowly dissolve over the course of several months, allowing for a steady and constant rate of hormone release, operating much like your body would in producing hormones. The pellets dissolve completely, so there's no need for removal. Once the pellets are fully dissolved, the procedure is repeated, typically rotating at least a couple of different sites.
Advantages of hormone pellet therapy
There are several advantages to hormone pellet replacement therapy that have caused the process to explode in popularity.
Consistent delivery over time
Probably the most significant advantage for pellets over any other delivery mechanism is that the hormones are delivered in a level, consistent manner. Pills, creams, and injections inherently cause fluctuations in hormone levels as they will spike immediately after administration and then diminish until the next dose. This spike can cause you to feel good at first, and then your symptoms slowly creep back in until you dose again and send the levels back up. The pellets don't exhibit these highs and lows. The pellets dissolve at a steady rate, providing a stable hormone level in your body.
Ease of use
Taking a pill, applying cream or gel, or injecting every day or week is not only a hassle, but it's easier to forget it. Life gets busy, and people have many moving parts to keep track of, and medication can often get missed. The pellets remove the hassle and the risk of forgetting. Once the pellets are implanted, you're done and don't have to worry about when it will be time to install the next batch for several months. How quickly your body breaks down the pellets and your hormonal needs will determine how often you need to have them implanted, but it's almost always at least a couple of months in between.
Excellent rate of success
Everybody processes hormones differently, so there isn't any modality that works the same for everyone. With that said, hormone pellet therapy has brought consistent results and patient satisfaction. For example, in one study, 95% of patients using pellets were satisfied with their treatment. That's far higher than the 75% of patients using injections and the 62% of patients using a cream or gel.
Disadvantages of hormone pellet therapy
While most are very happy with hormone pellet therapy, some downsides need to be considered prior to obtaining this therapy.
Requires minor surgery
While in the very minor category, the hormone pellet implantation is still technically a surgery. The doctor will not put you under general anesthesia, just use local numbing agents, and the incision is tiny. Still, the fact that it's considered a surgical procedure can be a turn-off for some. Plus, scheduling the time to get it done can be problematic with a busy schedule.
Not very customizable
With every individual's imbalance and body being unique, the dosages of hormones needed from the pellets vary greatly. You may need to supplement with a different HRT delivery mechanism to fill in any gaps that may occur. There's some customization possible in the number of pellets your doctor will implant. Still, you could fall into a slightly insufficient area, yet adding another pellet would put your levels too high.
You need to avoid strenuous physical activity and prolonged exposure to water altogether for several days after surgery, allowing for the incision to heal. Bruising, swelling, redness, and discomfort are common during this recovery period but are usually mild. Also, with any surgical procedure, infection is always a risk.
Limited adjustment options
While your doctor can add more pellets after the initial implants, they're unable to remove any of the pellets after implantation. This limited adjustment option is another reason it's imperative to choose a well-trained and highly experienced provider in hormone replacement therapy, specifically pellet therapy, to prevent over-treatment.
The cost is dependent on insurance and what yours covers. Some insurance companies haven't accepted this as a viable alternative to pills, injections, or transdermal applications and therefore don't cover it at all or cover very little. The overall cost of the procedure is typically a fair amount higher than other methodologies.
FAQs about hormone pellet therapy
Who can perform hormone pellet therapy?
A trained medical professional should only perform hormone pellet therapy. A big part of the success and satisfaction of your treatment lies with your medical provider. They're responsible for accurately determining your dosage, properly performing the procedure, monitoring your hormone levels during therapy, and determining when the next batch needs to be implanted. Find a provider who specializes in HRT and has experience with pellet therapy.
Can I use a holistic approach to hormone replacement therapy?
It may be more than one hormone that's out of balance. Be sure to have your doctor test all of your hormone levels to treat all hormonal issues. Some of the hormones that you may be deficient in aren't available in a pellet. Start your hormone replacement therapy journey with a full battery of lab tests to get the entire picture, eliminating a trial and error approach and allowing for a treatment plan that accurately addresses your needs.
Are there any risks involved with hormone pellet therapy?
Like any medication or medical procedure, there's a risk of side effects, especially when starting. The body is not accustomed to the newly increased levels of the hormone(s), and as a result, adverse reactions can occur. Most of these improve as your body adjusts to the increased hormone levels. Some of these side effects include the following:
- Blurred vision.
- Weight gain.
- Increased facial hair in women.
- Vaginal spotting.
- Breast tenderness.
- Mood swings.
If these become problematic or do not diminish over time, make sure you discuss them with your medical professional. It could be that the dosage is too high or the increase was too quick. The dosage may need to be adjusted downward, or there may need to be a plan in place to increase the dosage slowly over time. Your doctor may also have ways to eliminate or significantly reduce the side effects you are experiencing.
Why the biostation is right for you
Perhaps you have considered HRT and are ready to take the next step. If so, then see us at the biostation to explore what therapy option would benefit you best. Why should you choose us at the biostation? First of all, we understand that your health is by far the most valuable asset you have.
General practitioners only test a small handful of basic health markers and base treatment on antiquated level models. The face-to-face time you get with a doctor is mere minutes, and they treat any symptoms with pharmaceuticals that can be risky with possible adverse side effects.
The biostation is different, and we seek to redesign healthcare in every facet. Our patient's success is our paramount concern, and we provide the very best care at every step. This approach begins with advanced diagnostic testing. An in-depth personal consultation with one of our expert physicians accompanies a battery of tests encompassing over 120 biomarkers. We thoroughly listen to our patient's concerns and symptoms to ultimately determine the root cause of any issue to benefit their health, reverse the effects of aging, and prevent age-based diseases.
We offer our services at a state-of-the-art facility with a world-class medical staff led by our Medical Director, Dr. Martin G. Bloom. We also provide in-depth education for our patients with one-and-a-half-hour doctor consultations and concierge medicine service provided by our on-call, 24/7 Patient Advocate team. At the station, we use proven, safe, effective solutions for overall wellness and anti-aging solutions. See for yourself what a difference the biostation can make for you and your quality of life.
If you or someone you love is interested in hormone replacement therapy or has additional questions, please reach out to the team at the biostation. You can reach us at 561-462-4894 or via our convenient and secure online messaging service. You can also request a consultation online. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have or get you set up for a consultation.