Why Should You Consider Anti-Aging Medicine?
As we get older, our hormones begin to decline, which is a normal part of the aging process. For some, this transition is seamless and comfortable. However, many more experience aging in a negative way. Women may experience hot flashes, weight gain, vaginal dryness, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, weakened bone density, decreased density and tone of skin, increased wrinkles, dry hair and nails and low libido. Men may experience depression, issues with erection or with sexual desire, weight gain around the middle, fatigue, or memory issues. Aging also brings with it an increased risk of debilitating and potentially lethal health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia and cancer. We can’t blame everything solely on declining hormones. As people begin to feel worse physically, it is more common to gravitate toward high carbohydrate and fat foods as well as sugar and alcohol. Coffee consumption increases as fatigue worsens and exercise becomes less frequent as joints start to ache and stamina at the gym declines.
What is Anti-Aging Medicine?
Anti-aging medicine focuses on optimizing the way we age while still honoring the beauty in the transition to the later phases of life. It is not an attempt to be 20 again, but to be the very best we can be at any age. Using nutrition, exercise recommendations, supplement optimization and hormone balancing, anti-aging medicine can slow down the aging process, mitigate the negative symptoms of aging, and even reverse age-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and erectile dysfunction.
What Can I Expect During My Initial Anti-Aging Medicine Visit?
At your first anti-aging medicine visit, we will review your intake information in detail, taking into account your current symptoms, your health history, your family history, your personal health goals, your current supplement and medication list and previous lab results. You will leave your first visit with a requisition for a blood draw so that we can determine your hormone profile, as well as molecular markers of risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and dementia. We will also assess the levels of nutrients that play a role in overall hormone balancing. Finally, we will assess your thyroid function as well as the way your thyroid hormone is broken down to it’s active components in the blood. The first visit is completed with focused physical examination.
A week after your blood draw, you return for a second anti-aging medicine visit. During that visit, we review and discuss the results of your blood work in detail. You will be provided with a comprehensive picture of all of your hormones and how they are working together to affect your physiology and the way you feel. An individualized treatment plan is then defined for you that will include nutritional and/or supplementation suggestions, recommended follow up testing (for example, bone density testing, updated PAP, mammogram or colonoscopy), if necessary, new or revised medication prescription, and finally hormone prescriptions, if indicated.
After starting the anti-aging medicine program, you will receive a follow up call two weeks later to see how you are feeling. Then at four weeks, we order follow up blood work to determine if hormones are being balanced and deficiencies are being corrected. After that blood draw, we meet again to adjust doses of hormones and supplements and follow up on how nutrition and exercise suggestions are working. Blood draws are ordered again at eight weeks and 12 weeks after starting the program. Once hormones are balanced and as your overall health improves, we measure hormones every three months, followed by an office visit. We are continually assessing whether or not your hormones are in a safe and effective range by comparing blood results with symptom relief and side effects. While there are target ranges for hormones when on an anti-aging medicine protocol (creating a hormonal balance of a 30 year old), it is important to listen to the body first.
Which Hormones Are Balanced in an Anti-Aging Medicine Protocol?
The hormones that decline as we age aren’t just estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, but include growth hormone, DHEA, PSA, DHT and pregnenolone, as well as thyroid hormones such as TSH, free T3 and free T4, cortisol, insulin and prolactin. These hormones must be balanced in relation to one another.
How are Hormones Used During an Anti-Aging Medicine Protocol?
First and foremost hormones must be bioidentical, that is, they must look and behave exactly like your own endogenous hormones. Next, we must make sure that we are replicating the natural rhythm with which hormones are released in the body. Hormones are released in a measured and stable way throughout the day. Absorbing hormones through the skin is the optimal way to match this rhythm. Transdermal hormone absorption (through the skin) allows the hormone to pass through the liver slowly which helps to keep the levels more stable and lessens side effects. By applying hormone creams such as estrogen and progesterone to the face and neck, we can also decrease fine lines and wrinkles and increase blood flow to the skin which has an aesthetic benefit. In women, testosterone is applied behind the knee as there are not any hair follicles behind the knee. It is suggested that men apply testosterone to the genitals as the local effect can greatly enhance erectile dysfunction issues. DHEA and pregnenolone are given orally as transdermal application of these hormones does not sufficiently increase serum blood levels. Some women have such severe hot flashes that hormones must be applied vaginally or orally in order to achieve therapeutic levels necessary to reduce symptoms quickly and effectively. Some men have to apply testosterone elsewhere as well in order to keep other hormones from becoming imbalanced. For these reasons, hormone balancing must be highly individualized, and hormones must be measured routinely to ensure they are maintained at optimal levels.