NeuVa Wellness: Bioidentical Hormone Pellet Therapy (BHPT)
As men and women age, our hormone levels drop and become imbalanced which leads to a loss in mental clarity and focus, sense of well-being, sexual desire and other functions needed for a happy and healthy life. Overwhelming data support the fact that bio-identical hormone pellets effectively treat symptoms in both men and women. Pellets, placed under the skin, consistently release small, natural doses of hormones providing optimal therapy without adverse effects. Drs. Armi Lynn Walker and Cary Shakespeare have done extensive research on the subject and are the first practitioners in Kern County to have successfully completed advanced training in bio-identical hormone pellet therapy at the nationally recognized Hormone Therapy Centers of America.
What are Pellets?
Pellets or implants are made up of bio-identical hormones (i.e. testosterone or estrogen that are the exact chemical formula, identical molecular structure, to what your body produces) and are derived from natural plants that are pressed into very small solid cylinders. These are larger than a grain of rice and smaller than a “Tic-Tac”. In the United States, the majority of pellets are made by compounding pharmacists since “big pharmaceutical companies” can’t profit from the production of these unpatentable, natural substances.
Pellets deliver consistent, healthy levels of hormones for approximately 4 months in women and 5 months in men. The pellets dissolve completely on their own during this time. They avoid the fluctuations, or ups and downs of hormone levels (roller coaster effect) seen with EVERY other method of delivery. This is important for optimal health and disease prevention. Pellets do not increase the risk of blood clots or other complications that conventional/synthetic hormone replacement therapy has been associated with.
In studies comparing pellets 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, and improvement in sex drive, libido, sexual response and performance.
Estrogen deficiency has been suggested as “a state of accelerated aging.” The ultimate goal of estrogen delivered by subcutaneous pellets is to reproduce premenopausal levels of estrogen and FSH. This will reestablish the normal female estrogen physiology and alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep problems, irritability, joint and muscular discomfort, and physical and mental exhaustion.
Testosterone delivered by a pellet implant has been used to treat migraine and menstrual headaches. Testosterone also helps with vaginal dryness, incontinence, urinary urgency and frequency. In both men and women testosterone has been shown to increase energy, increase libido, relieve depression, increase sense of wellbeing, relieve anxiety and improve memory and concentration. Testosterone delivered by pellet implant increases lean body mass (muscle strength, bone density) and decreases fat mass, especially belly fat. Men and women need adequate levels of testosterone for optimal mental and physical health and for the prevention of chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which are associated with low testosterone levels. It is a well known fact that testosterone decreases with age in both men and women. Men lose 1-3% of total testosterone production per year after age 30 and women lose 50% of their testosterone production by age 40.
Even patients that have failed other types of hormone therapy have a VERY high success rate with pellets. There is no other “method of delivery” that is as convenient, effective, and safe for the patient as implants. Implants have been used in both men and women since the late 1930’s. There is significant data that supports the use of bio-identical hormone implants in both men and women.
How Long until a Patient Feels Better after Pellets are Inserted?
Some patients begin to “feel better” within 24-48 hours, while others may take 10-14 days to notice a difference. Diet and lifestyle (exercise), along with hormone balance are critical for optimal health. Stress is a major contributor to hormone imbalance and illness. Side effects and adverse drug events from prescription medications may interfere with the beneficial effects of the testosterone implant.
How Long do Pellets Last?
The pellets usually last between 3-5 months in women and 4-6 months in men. The pellets do not need to be removed. They completely dissolve on their own . . . And remember, not all pellets are created equal. We are the first providers in Kern County to affiliate with the Hormone Therapy Centers of America, who have dedicated significant resources and research to find a compounding pharmacy that produces the best pellets in the country.
Do Female Patients Need Progesterone When They use the Pellets?
Women who are treated with testosterone implants alone (no estrogen therapy) do not require progestin therapy.
However, if estradiol or other estrogen therapy is prescribed to a woman who still has her uterus, progestins are also needed. The main indication for progesterone is to prevent the proliferation (stimulation) of the uterine lining caused by estrogen. Bio-identical progesterone is not yet available in pellet form, but it is available in a pill called Prometrium which is approved by the FDA. Prometrium has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer or have negative effects on the heart like synthetic progesterone has been associated with. Progestin therapy is NOT required if estrogen therapy is not prescribed. However, there may be other health benefits from the hormone, progesterone. It may be used in addition to other hormones to help women who have difficulty with sleep, hot flashes, tension or anxiety. Testosterone and progesterone have beneficial effects on the brain and nervous system.
How are Hormones Monitored During Therapy?
Hormone levels will be drawn and evaluated before therapy is started. Every patient will have individualized dosing that is calculated from these lab values, height and weight. This type of specific hormone dosing guarantees that you will receive the exact amount that your body needs. These labs include an FSH, estradiol, and testosterone for women. Men need a PSA (prostate specific antigen), sensitive estradiol, testosterone (free and total), liver profile and a complete blood count prior to starting therapy. Thyroid hormone levels will be evaluated along with Vitamins D, B12 and Ferritin.
Men must notify their primary care physician and obtain a digital rectal exam each year. Women are advised to continue their monthly self-breast exams and obtain a mammogram and/or a pap smear as advised by their gynecologist or primary care physician.
How Much do Pellets Cost?
The cost for the insertion of pellets is currently at an introductory offer for women and men and is dependent on the dose of the hormone and the number of pellets needed. Men need a much larger dose of the hormone and more pellets. Since men need more pellets than women, the cost is higher. Pellets need to be inserted 2 to 3 times a year depending on how rapidly a patient metabolizes hormones. When compared to the cost of drugs to treat the individual symptoms of hormone decline, including depression, anxiety, problems with excess weight, sexual dysfunction, lack of energy and sleep, pellets are VERY cost effective. For comparison, one Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks every day for 5 months will cost $250 more than the bio-identical hormone pellet therapy. We are convinced that you will feel younger and live better by choosing the pellets over the caffeine.
Will Insurance Cover the Procedure?
Very few insurance companies cover the cost of pellets, although if you have met your deductible, most insurance will cover the cost of the initial labs. Payment is required at the time of service. Prevention is much more cost effective than disease.
Is There a Role for Testosterone Implants (pellets) in Premenopausal Females?
Testosterone pellets may be used in premenopausal females (women who have not stopped menstruating). Testosterone has been shown to relieve migraine and menstrual headaches, help with symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), relieve anxiety and depression, increase energy, help with sleep and improve sex drive and libido. If a premenopausal female has a testosterone pellet inserted, birth control is recommended. There is a “theoretical risk of masculinizing” a female fetus.
Can a Patient be Allergic to Implants?
Very rarely, a patient will develop a local zone of redness (3-8 cm) with itching at the site of the testosterone implant. If needed, 25-50 mg of Benadryl works well for the itching.
For more information about bioidentical hormone pellet therapy (BHPT), please contact our office at: 1801 16th Street, Suite B, Bakersfield, CA 933
Phone: (661) 633-2229