Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT): What You Need to Know
Are your hormones balanced?
The ability of the human body to produce hormones can decline and become imbalanced with age. Surgical procedures and long periods of stress can also cause hormones to become unstable. However, the body still needs those hormones.
Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, or BHRT, can restore a hormone balance through the use of plant-derived compounds that have the same chemical structure as what the human body makes.
Below we’ll answer some questions about the BHRT process at Hawthorne Pharmacy.
Who is BHRT for?
Hormone imbalances can occur in individuals of any gender at any age.
At Hawthorne, most of our BHRT patients are women experiencing menopause.
Most patients for BHRT are already having symptoms that could point to a hormone imbalance, such as:
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive
- Lack of energy
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
We work to replace hormones that may be missing, but we also work with patients on nutrition and other lifestyle changes in order to alleviate symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Even patients who lack symptoms but have a strong family history of hormone imbalance may seek hormone replacement early to help prevent those symptoms.
"I've been helping patients with hormone replacement for almost 20 years. . . . It's so rewarding to see patients do better. That's what it's all about."
—Wendy Lee, Compounding Pharmacist
How can compounding make hormone therapy a better experience for patients?
At Hawthorne, compounding enables us to better customize BHRT for each patient.
The three hormones patients may need are estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. We conduct private consultations and testing in order to come up with a BHRT plan specific to each patient.
In our compounding lab, we can then dose hormones appropriately for the individual patient. For example, we can start the patient on a really low dose and then gradually raise it, depending on what the tests indicate they need.
Compounding also enables us to deliver hormones in different forms such as a cream, capsule, injection, or suppository.
We can also put multiple hormones into one form for patients who need it. Combining two or three hormones into one delivery method makes treatment easier and more cost effective for the patient.
Is BHRT safe?
We take the safety of our patients very seriously.
While a visit to the doctor’s office may be rushed, our pharmacists have the ability to sit down and take time with patients interested in BHRT. Medical history is crucial to developing a treatment plan. Most of our initial consultations are 45 minutes to an hour, and we usually see patients more often than a doctor would, so we can check on their progress.
Monitoring is an important part of the BHRT process. We meet with patients for a 90-day follow up after their treatment has started, and often we will re-test their hormone levels to make sure they’re on the right track.
As far as compounding safety, all of our base ingredients are FDA approved. Our technicians are highly trained to make the compounds and to take all appropriate safety precautions.
How much does BHRT cost?
There are a few different fees associated with BHRT.
Initial hormone testing costs $109—this is a comprehensive test that checks 13 different hormone levels.
After testing, you’d schedule an initial consultation with one of our pharmacists. There is a one-time consultation fee of $150, and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to make a treatment plan.
While typical insurance does not cover hormone testing, FSA and HSA dollars can be used to pay for both testing and consultation.
Some insurance providers will cover the compounded hormone medication, but if not, it would usually cost an average of $55-$65/month.
How do I get started?
Interested in BHRT?
In our program we require initial hormone testing and completion of an online or paper evaluation form before scheduling a consultation.
During the scheduled consultation the pharmacist will review your medical history, current medications, symptoms, and dietary/lifestyle modifications to achieve the best results.
After the consultation, the consultant will send a prescription recommendation to your current prescriber for approval.
First, take a look at our BHRT office policies. If you have any initial questions, please contact us or talk to staff at one our Midlands locations. When you're ready to get started, you can fill out one of our BHRT evaluation forms.