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Beauty Addix: Bio-Identical Natural Hormone Therapy

Hormone pellets, smaller than a breath mint and inserted under the skin, can now offer relief for men and women suffering from hormonal imbalance. Find out more about this unique method of hormone therapy.

Hormone pellets are the best, most natural way to deliver hormones in both men and women. Pellets, placed under the skin, consistently release small, physiologic doses of bio-identical hormones providing optimal therapy. What are pellets? Pellets are made up of either estradiol or testosterone. The hormones, estradiol or testosterone, are pressed or fused into very small cylinders. These pellets are larger than a grain of rice and smaller than a "Tic Tac". In the United States, pellets are made by a compounding pharmacist and delivered in sterile glass vials.

Why pellets? Pellets deliver consistent, healthy levels of hormones for 3-6 months in women and up to 9 months in men. They avoid the fluctuations, or ups and downs, of hormone levels seen with every other method of delivery. It is the fluctuation in hormones that causes many of the unwanted side effects and symptoms a patient experiences. Estrogen delivered by subcutaneous pellets, maintains the normal ration of estradiol to estrone. This is important for optimal health and disease prevention. Pellets do not increase the risk of blood clots like conventional or synthetic hormone replacement therapy.

In studies, when compared to conventional hormone replacement therapy, pellets have been shown to be superior for relief of menopausal symptoms, maintenance of bone density, restoration of sleep patterns, improvement in sex drive, libido, sexual response and performance. Even patients who have failed other types of hormone therapy have a very high success rate with pellets. In addition, there is no other method of hormone delivery that is as convenient for the patient as pellets.

Pellets have been used in both men and women since the late 1930's. In fact, there is more data to support the use of pellets than any other method of delivery of hormones.

How and where do you insert pellets? The insertion of pellets is a simple, relatively painless procedure done under local anesthesia. The pellets are usually inserted in the hip through a small incision which is taped closed. Experience of the health care professional counts, not only in placing the pellets, but in determining the correct dosage of hormones to be used. Complications from the insertion of pellets include minor bleeding, bruising, discoloration of the skin, infection, and possible extrusion of the pellet. Other than slight bruising or discoloration of the skin, these complications are very rare. Vigorous physical activity is avoided for 48 hours in women and up to 5 to 7 days in men. Antibiotics may be given if a patient is diabetic or has had a joint replaced.

You may wonder why you haven't heard of pellets. Pellets are not patented and not marketed in the United States. They are frequently used in Europe and Australia where pharmaceutical companies produce pellets. Most of the research on pellets is out of England and Australia with some from Germany and the Netherlands. Pellets were frequently used in the United States from about 1940 through the late 70's, early 80's when patented estrogens were marketed to the public. In fact, some of the most exciting data on hormone implants in breast cancer patients is out of the United States. Even in the United States there are clients that specialize in the use of pellets for hormone therapy.

After pellets are inserted, patients may notice that they have more energy, sleep better and feel happier. Muscle mass and bone density will increase while fatty tissue decreases. Patients may notice increased strength, co- ordination and physical performance. They may see an improvement in skin tone and hair texture. Concentration and memory may improve as will overall physical and sexual health.

Pellets do not have the same risk of breast cancer as high doses of oral estrogens, like Premarin, that do not maintain the correct estrogen ratio or hormone metabolites. Nor, do they increase the risk of breast cancer like synthetic, chemical progestins.

When a patient first starts hormone therapy there may be a mild, temporary breast tenderness which gets better on its own. Hormone receptors may be very sensitive and take time to adjust. There may be a temporary water weight gain which will also resolve on its own. the body will tone up, as bone density and muscle mass increase and fatty tissue decreases. Some patients begin to 'feel better' within 24 hours while others may take a week or two to notice a difference.

The pellets usually last between 3-6 months for women and 6-9 months for men.

The pellets do not need to removed. They completely dissolve on their own. Pellets are an excellent way to deliver testosterone in men, providing consistent levels of testosterone while maintaining normal estrogen levels. Any time estradiol is prescribed, progesterone is also described. There are progesterone (not progestin) receptors in the bone, brain, heart, breast and uterus. Progesterone can be used as a topical cream, a vaginal cream, oral capsule, or sublingual drops or capsules. If a patient is pre-menopausal she uses the progesterone the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. Hormone therapy with pellets is not just used for menopause. Women and men at any age may experience hormone imbalance. Levels decline or fluctuate contributing to debilitating symptoms. Pellets are useful in severe PMS, post partum depression, menstrual or migraine headaches and sleeping disorders. Pellets may also be used to treat hormone deficiencies caused by the birth control pill.

Hormone levels will be drawn and evaluated before therapy is started. This will include a FSH, estradiol, testosterone and free testosterone for women. Men need a PSA, estradiol, free estradiol, testosterone and possibly estrone prior to starting therapy. Levels will be revaluated during hormone therapy at 4-6 weeks and again in 4-5 months. After the first years of therapy, hormone levels are followed less frequently. The PSA in men is followed every 6-12 months.

Testosterone levels begin to decline in men beginning in their 30's. Most men maintain adequate levels of testosterone into their mid 40's to mid 50's, some into their late 70's early 80's. Men should be tested when they begin to show signs of testosterone deficiency. Even men in their 30's can be testosterone deficient and show signs of bone loss. Most men need to be tested around 50 years of age. It is never too late to benefit from hormone therapy.

The cost for pellets is as follows:

*Consultation $200

Blood work $300 - $400 (in our lab, depending on the numbers of tests)

Pellet insertion $250

Pellets $38 (per pellet)

*There are a few insurance companies that will cover the cost of this procedure. Insurance companies may also cover the blood test. Men need a much larger dose of testosterone than women and so the cost will be a little higher. When compared to the cost of drugs to treat the individual symptoms of hormone decline, pellets are very cost effective.

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