Women's Health Connection follows a style of medical practice that insists on going back to the science of physiology and biochemistry to help with basic medical problems. Diet, lifestyle, nutritionand careful testing of hormone imbalances and deficiencies are the foundations of successful perimenopausal and menopausal care. When deficiencies are noted, the goal is to replace only what's missing, and replace it only to the normal range, with the same nutrients and hormones that your body naturally produces.
The term "bio-identical" is often used to describe hormones, nutrients, and substrates identical to those that the body naturally produces. Sometimes they are called "human identical" meaning that they are the forms of these substances that humans produce, and not derived from other animals. Bio-identical substances are sometimes formulated by a compounding pharmacy, although some traditional prescription medications are also bio-identical. Please note that for safety reasons, Women's Health Connection has a policy of only using compounding pharmacies accredited through the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board. We encourage you to have a look at this website regularly and fact check anyone who claims their pharmacy is accredited. While all compounding pharmacies must meet the requirements set by the resident state board of pharmacy, PCAB accreditation denotes a more comprehensive and stringent standard. Being accredited means they are meeting careful safety checks and balances, because pharmacy compounding is a complex process, and otherwise fairly highly prone to human error. Please note that we do not have any financial ties with them, and if you find a more cost effective PCAB accredited compounding pharmacy that you'd like to use, we'd be happy to accommodate. Also, please note that we make no exceptions to using a non-PCAB accredited pharmacy – even though we are asked regularly about this by our patients. It is a safety issue.
Being "bio-identical" does not by itself mean that a hormone is "safe" or that large doses are "OK". They are still powerful substances and using them responsibly means carefully measuring what's missing and what's present in excess and prescribing only what's missing in the amount that it is missing, based on careful testing.
There are many symptoms that can result from hormone deficiencies, excesses and imbalance. The most common ones we hear are hot flashes, nightsweats, weight gain around hips or waist, lack of libido, memory loss (such as difficulty finding the right word or difficulty remembering why you entered a room), irritability and mood swings, excessive crying, anxiety, changes in skin, hair and nails, fatigue and joint pain, insomnia, PMS, salt and sugar cravings, hair loss, palpitations, menstrual irregularities, fibroids, endometriosis, painful breasts, and irritable bowel. These are just some. There are others.
Getting hormones balanced will usually help with these problems. As with any therapy, there are a few people who do not respond. In many cases, hormone balancing can help quite a bit, and help you feel much better, and in some cases, your symptoms will disappear entirely. Of course, it is of utmost importance to rule out disease first of all and then to focus on adjusting hormone levels and nutritional levels for optimal functioning.
There is evidence and the evidence suggests that they are quite possibly a little safer and a little more efficacious when used responsibly. Unfortunately they are often misused. Please take the time to read a well referenced clinical review article on this topic: The Bio-Identical Hormone Debate: Are Bio-Identical Hormones (Estradiol, Estriol and Progesterone) Safer or More Efficacious than Commonly Used Synthetic Versions in Hormone Replacement Therapy? See also American Heart Association: Hormone Creams May Aid Menopausal Symptoms without Increasing Thrombotic Risk. There are others and we will review them with you.
The first step is to thoroughly assess your symptoms. This starts with completing a questionnaire, reviewing your symptoms in detail with one of our providers, doing a targeting physical exam, updating your annual exam if necessary, making sure that your preventative exam is up to date in terms of PAPs, mammograms, colonoscopy, bone scans and any other recommended preventative exams.
A individual plan will be set up for you, depending on your symptoms.
To the extent that you have medical symptoms that need evaluation, management, diagnosis and treatment, your office visits and follow-ups are covered like any other visit to the doctor's office, and should be subject to copays, coinsurance and deductibles like any other office visit.
We will take adequate time at each of your visits to thoroughly understand your problems and counsel you about managing them, and educating you about general principles and your specific situation, and the risks and benefits, and your choices. These visits are often scheduled for 30 to 120 minutes, depending on how much we have to discuss.