As we grow older, many of us experience a tremendous amount of frustration because something inside us doesn’t work the way it used to. The most widely accepted idea in regards of aging is that it is just a part of the life cycle: a person is born, goes through childhood, adolescence and adulthood and, at a certain point in time, begins to age.

However, inevitably, the aging process is associated with illness.

Do we need to accept all of this and spend the last 20-30 years of our lives battling with those chronic age-related diseases? Luckily, no more! We all know that a healthy lifestyle (think good diet, no smoking, no excessive sun exposure, enough sleep, management of stress, good relationships, etc.) is very important in order to maintain a good health; however, it’s not enough: something else happens in our body as we age, that can’t be addressed just through a good lifestyle. By our mid-40s, for both men and women, hormones in the body (to name just a few: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone,melatonin, thyroid’s hormones, etc) begin to lose their perfect pitch balance; with the following advent of menopause in women, and andropause in men, the quality of everyday life can be seriously impacted.

We, either figure out how to get our homones back into balance, or we become sick, overweight, unhappy, asexual, sleepless, depressed, and start aging rapidly and getting chronic illnesses.

Both men and women need a balanced endocrine system, as hormones regulate every function in the body. They serve as an internal communication system between cells throughout the body. They coordinate everything from digestion and growth to appetite, immune function, mood, and libido, etc. When our hormones are in balance, we feel healthy, energetic and more in control of our lives. Differently, when they are out of balance, even slightly, it can have a big impact on our health and well-being.

So a key component of healthy aging is restoring the hormones that are declining as we age, to levels that are associated with the highest quality of life and lowest incidence of bodily decline and degenerative diseases (such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, stroke and other serious ailments).

However, many people don’t realise that the hormones supplied through Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) aren’t all the same. The best way of treating hormone deficiency due to aging (such as, for example, menopause and andropause) is through Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Bio-identical, also known as natural or better yet, human identical hormones, are synthetically manufactured hormone drugs that look identical to the human hormone molecules our bodies make. These hormones are made from soy and yam oils by pharmaceutical processes of concentration and purification that produce hormone powders. These powders are then placed in different preparations for us to take (pills, patches, gels, lozenges, creams, and pellets). Synthetic doesn’t mean bad. It just refers to the process of creating specific molecules in a laboratory, in this case, hormones that look identical to our own hormones. I believe a better way to identify them is to call them human identical hormones to distinguish them from other hormone molecules that do not look like the hormones our bodies make (we call them “hormones impostors”). Bio-identical or human identical hormones are recognized by the human body as our own and no adverse reactions to the hormones occur if when treating humans we follow the individual person’s needs for hormones carefully and respectfully.

Unlike non bio-identical hormone therapies (such as the so-called general “Hormone Replacement Therapy” or HRT), BHRT should be continued indefinitely. Non bio-identical hormones can, viceversa, have long-term detrimental consequences and unwanted side effects.

Furthermore, bio-identical hormones, differently from non bio-identical ones, can be individually formulated by a Doctor, leading to the possibility of having a “customized medication”. Individualization in dosing, combinations and delivery methods can therefore be possible. Every patient getting bio-identical hormones has regular tests to find how much of the different hormone they have in their body already and then gets a personalised prescription to achieve and maintain a healthy level if necessary. This is very important since, in regards to hormone treatments, and I see it every day in the clinic with my patients, there is no “one dose or one combination fits all” solution. Each one of my patient needs customized hormone medications. This is why often patients don’t respond well to non bio-identical hormone medications mass-produced by pharmaceutical companies. When it comes to hormones, we need to be extremely precise and give back to the body just what it needs. Through Compounded  Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, I can prescribe dosages and formulations that are just right for each one my patients. Prevention is better than cure. Being in good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care when you need it, it also comes from finding and stopping health problems before they start. Luckily today is possible to age without getting the diseases our parents did and one fundamental tool is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).

Nowdays, growing older doesn’t have to mean growing sicker. Ensure you add quality and not just quantity to your life span.

This article originally appeared in the N. 18 issue of Ccercle magazine.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Valeria Acampora