Benevere Pharmacy in Collierville says it is seeing an uptick in patients who are benefiting from bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, with many experiencing near-normal hormone levels after identifying a therapy regimen that works for them. Bio-identical hormones differ from traditional replacements because they are compounded to be the same as the body's own hormones on a molecular level.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is popular primarily among women going through menopause, but can also be used for men. Common menopausal symptoms can include sleeplessness, hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, memory loss, adult acne, depression, energy loss, fatigue and irritability.
During menopause, the body reduces the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, putting women at greater risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.
The bio-identical hormone therapy offers individualized care for issues specific to each person, rather than standardized hormone replacements, which have been linked to breast cancer and other side effects.
“We can compound a naturally occurring progesterone/estrogen that is specific to each patient’s body, as opposed to a mass-produced hormone,” Wright said.
The most common hormone therapies of the past have included animal-based products such as primarin, isolated from pregnant mares’ urine, and synthetics such as provera, derived from progesterone.
“I’ve been on bio-identical hormone therapy for more than 11 years now,” said Amy Maddox, Benevere sales representative.
Prior to taking the bio-identical hormone therapy, Maddox took synthetic hormones for nearly 15 years after her need for the therapy was surgically induced at age 29. She went every route with synthetics: pill form, injections and a patch – and none were working for her.
“Our bodies are made up differently, like a puzzle, so we need natural hormones coming from a source that will fit our bodies as it should,” Maddox said. “I went to work at the compounding pharmacy and learned about BHRTs. I responded really well to the treatment and have been on them ever since.”
Maddox takes the transdermal therapy, which is like a lotion rubbed on different sites on the body.
“We’ve only gotten thumbs up from the patients who are on them,” Maddox said. “Our compounding is tailor-made for the specific patient and whatever issues we are treating.”
Hormones change with age and are affected by illness, so Maddox explained that dosages sometimes need to be tweaked. She also recommends that patients take a supplement for bone health, a multivitamin and vitamin D3.
Benevere holds a hormone event every other month, and Maddox sees many women who want to get off synthetic hormones – and possibly antidepressants as well – and go the natural route.
“All they might need is some progesterone to help with their sleep, and other hormones could help with the depression,” Maddox said.
She stresses that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy requires a prescription from a physician and is not sold over the counter.
Men suffering from andropause, or male menopause, can also benefit from bio-identical hormone therapy. Andropause is a biological change experienced during mid-life, with a decline in testosterone leading to symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, diabetes, loss of energy and concentration, depression and mood swings.
Blood and/or saliva tests can measure patients’ levels of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol levels.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapies currently make up about 15 percent of the pharmacy’s business, and Wright expects that number to grow.
“The compounds we use have seen a resurgence over the past 10 years,” said Wright, who explained that Benevere is a full retail pharmacy that also does compounding. “We definitely expect this segment to grow as women and men try to manage their hormones and their overall health.”