Women can get a boost through tailored topical creamIt’s a hormone booster personalized to each patient. It’s a topical cream. And apparently, many women swear by it. Dr. Mark Berntson of Sanford Health in East Grand Forks says it’s not his core business, but some of his female patients see him exclusively for the product, called bioidentical hormone treatment.
By: Lisa Gibson, Agweek
It’s a hormone booster personalized to each patient. It’s a topical cream. And apparently, many women swear by it.
Dr. Mark Berntson of Sanford Health in East Grand Forks says it’s not his core business, but some of his female patients see him exclusively for the product, called bioidentical hormone treatment.
Female hormone levels begin to decline naturally when women are in their 20s, after the levels have reached their peak. When menopause occurs, usually around 30 years later, about 75 percent of women experience some hot flashes and minimal side effects for a year and then don’t experience any more problems, Berntson says.
But the 25 percent at the other end of the spectrum will experience intense hot flashes, trouble concentrating, dry skin and problems sleeping, among other issues that can last for several years. Those are the women who can call on Berntson for bioidentical hormone treatment.
How it works
Interested patients begin with a saliva test. The test determines which hormones are low and need boosting. Saliva is used because it’s a more accurate test than blood, where so much of the hormone is bound in protein, Berntson says.
The saliva kit is then sent to a lab and the results come back in about three weeks.
Once the hormones in need have been identified, Berntson works with Walls Pharmacy, which offers compounding services and produces the creams.
Patients rub their prescription hormone cream into their forearm, where it can easily be absorbed by the thin skin.
And it goes to work, replacing hormones in their bodies.
“It works the same as the natural hormones produced by the adrenal glands and the ovaries,” Berntson says. “The bioidentical hormones have proven safer than animal derived estrogen and synthetic progestins found in most commercial products.”
Women can continue to use the cream as long as they need to, he says, although on average, his patients use it for about five years.
“There are no rules. If they’ve been on it for five years, they can stay on it longer.”
Northern Valley OBGYN in Grand Forks doesn’t offer the treatment, but BetsyHemler, certified nurse midwife, says she is very interested in the option, calling it an alternative to synthetic hormones, which are “made up.”
“There are people who swear that bioidenticals are much better in their body,” she says, adding that the only reason Nothern Valley doesn’t offer the treatment is that its doctors simply haven’t been trained on its use. “It probably has great potential.
“We tend to be a bit more traditional in hormone replacement,” she says.
In addition, fewer women request hormone replacements because women generally are healthier than they were decades ago when most were given hormones as soon as they reached their 50s.
“Because God forbid you’d have a hot flash,” Hemler says.
Berntson says bioidentical treatment isn’t gaining popularity, but he has a “smattering” of patients and gets new ones every once in a while who hear he prescribes it. Most of his patients using the cream are in their 50s but he has some older, including one in her 70s.
So for women who suffer unnecessarily from menopausal symptoms, the solution might be right around the corner — and ready to be smeared.