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Most people dread aging. Wrinkles, hair loss, weight gain, decreased sex drive, diminishing muscle mass, menopause, andropause… Yep. Those things really do sound terrible. As a result, many people are embarrassed to talk about these changes when they are happening to them.

But what many people don’t understand, including many competent medical providers, is that the majority of these undesirable symptoms are symptoms of hormone imbalance, not simply growing older and wiser. What does that mean? It means those undesirable symptoms are natural, something we shouldn’t be embarrassed to discuss, and the kicker: they are largely treatable.

You see aging is not necessarily a condition of age. Rather, aging is the reaction to our body’s natural and predictable depletion of hormone levels. Medically, this is known as Adult Hormone Deficiency Syndrome [AHDS]. AHDS occurs in both men and women and eventually touches all of us. You read that right—no one gets to avoid this.

So, as our hormones begin to deplete, these undesirable symptoms start to rear their heads. Sometimes it happens slowly, where we don’t notice a change until we just don’t feel great or we’re having trouble building muscle, keeping fat off, finding our libido. Sometimes we wake up and think, “Wow, when did I get old and tired?”

In traditional medicine, something bad happens or you get sick, so you treat it. Too often, highly skilled medical providers see the above-listed symptoms and misdiagnose these as a result of depression, stress or simply a normal part of aging. But one of the most rewarding aspects of my job in the field of anti-aging medicine is helping men and women realize that we don’t have to wait until something breaks to fix it, and we don’t have settle for feeling “okay”, “so-so” or even “normal” anymore. There is an optimal state of being within our reach, whether you’re 25, 50 or going on 75.

Advances in anti-aging medicine, including medically supervised bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, have allowed medical professionals, like myself and my expert provider staff, to understand a patient’s baseline and help optimize their hormones given their medical history, health goals and chronological age.

Anti-aging medicine is an extension of preventive health care, and medicine of the future is about identifying and treating illnesses before they manifest. Some patients I talk to initially feel reluctant about the idea of anti-aging medicine because of a stigma surrounding hormone replacement therapy. I’m glad patients are being discerning about their health and the kinds of treatments and solutions they are seeking. What I tell them, and what I’d like to share with you, is that what sets bioidentical hormone replacement therapy [HRT] apart is the hormone products being used.

For decades we have been able to make exact replicas of the hormones our own bodies produce, hence, bioidentical. In the past, pharmaceutical companies weren’t able to patent and profit from making an exact replica of what nature gave us, so instead they turned to synthetics and compounds that were very close to the identical structure. They are so close that they actually do a lot of what natural hormones accomplish. Unfortunately, they just aren’t close enough and many did cause troubling side effects. By using nature’s exact duplicates, bioidentical hormones, we can get all the wonderful benefits of medically managed hormone replacement and minimize any potential negative side effects.

The positive effects of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy on AHDS have been documented in medical literature out of Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic and many other prestigious research institutions. Biodentical hormone replacement therapy isn’t a standalone solution, though. To be effective, a comprehensive and well-managed anti-aging program should not only include HRT, but nutrition and exercise counseling, stress reduction, nutraceutical supplementation and experts to help guide you through the program as your body evolves.

So for patients with questions about HRT: That’s what we’re here for! In fact, it’s encouraging to have these discussions, because understanding your options and being proactive about your health means you’re already on the right path to living as well as you can for as long as you can.

Interested in learning more? I’m hosting two free webinars next week, a women’s HRT webinar on January 27 and a men’s HRT webinar on January 28, both at 1 p.m. ET. Just for registering you can get $100 off your first consultation at the Age Management Center, and 15% off a one-time purchase with our webinar partner the Portland Nutrition Corner. Our staff is also always ready to take your call if you’d like to have a one-on-one discussion about whether an HRT program might be right for you.

So, let’s stop being embarrassed, start talking, and begin to take back control of our health.