As women enter menopause and their post-reproductive years, and as men enter andropause during middle age, their bodies undergo a lot of changes, many of them unwanted.

One thing that both men and women experience is weight gain. Without enough estrogen to keep the body reproductive-ready, or testosterone to pack on muscle mass, it’s inevitable that the scale needle heads upward.

At Viva Health, with locations in Clark and Clifton, New Jersey, Dr. Aleksander J. Bodnar offers his patients bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to blunt the effects of age-related changes, including weight gain.

Here’s what he wants you to know about this type of therapy and what it can do for you.

What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are usually created in a lab from plant estrogens chemically identical to the hormones naturally produced in the human body. As a result, they interact well with your hormone receptors, and they allow your body to keep running without the midlife glitches.

Some bioidentical hormones are custom-made, or compounded, at specialty pharmacies, according to Dr. Bodnar’s instructions. This process typically involves combining the active ingredient with other medications to meet your specific needs.

We should note that while the FDA has approved some forms of manufactured bioidentical hormones, including bioidentical estriol (weakened estrogen) and progesterone, it hasn’t approved custom-compounded varieties.

Nevertheless, Dr. Bodnar may use compounded preparations off label to treat you safely.

Bioidentical hormones come in various forms, including:

  • Pills
  • Pellets (testosterone and estrogen)
  • Patches
  • Injections
  • Topical creams and gels

Dr. Bodnar prefers to insert pellets just under the skin or administer the therapy as a cream. The pellets last for about 3-4 months, after which he reevaluates your hormone status. He can reimplant the pellets if everything’s okay, or he can modify the treatment if necessary.

The symptoms of menopause and andropause

Menopausal symptoms can last for years as a woman’s body winds down its reproductive cycle. They include:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness and diminished libido
  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep quality
  • General fatigue
  • Depression, mood changes, and irritability
  • Brain fog, cognitive dysfunction, decreased memory
  • Loss of lean muscle mass
  • Unexplained weight gain

After about age 30, most men see a gradual decrease in testosterone production (low T), which can also cause unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • Reduced sex drive and erectile dysfunction
  • Low blood counts
  • General fatigue
  • Mood changes and cognitive dysfunction
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Obesity
  • Unexplained weight gain

If you’re struggling with weight gain and other symptoms of menopause or andropause, BHRT may be the best way to return your body to a more youthful state.

What can BHRT do for me?

BHRT effectively treats the symptoms of menopause and andropause by increasing hormone levels. Because the body uses the bioidentical hormones (estrogen and testosterone) just like the naturally occurring ones, your propensity toward weight gain diminishes.

Both men and women are also at an increased risk for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis when their hormone levels are low. Since BHRT increases the levels, the bones retain their density and strength, decreasing the risk of fracture.

BHRT can also help decrease the risk of heart disease for both men and women.

BHRT is safe by itself, but increasing hormone levels can have unwanted effects. Combination formulations for women (estrogen and progesterone) increase breast cancer risk by about 75%, even when used for short periods; estrogen-only BHRT can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

Testosterone treatment for men is known to raise the red blood cell count and enlarge the breasts. It may also accelerate enlargement of the prostate. Men who have breast cancer aren’t good candidates for testosterone replacement treatment.

To learn more about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and determine if you’re a good candidate, call Viva Health at either of our locations to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bodnar, or book online with us today.

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