Pellet Hormone Replacement FAQ

We know that Hormone Replacement Therapy is essential for managing severe menopause (or “manopause!”) symptoms, and hopefully there is an easy way to deliver it, right? Fortunately, there is! IntimMedicine offers an easy outpatient procedure to place a bioidentical hormone pellet under the skin. Outta sight, outta mind, and you get to start living your life again!

What is it?

Pellets are compounded bioidentical hormones for women (our team of experts will determine exactly what’s right for you – the right amount can help you regain your hormonal balance). Pellet therapy is actually FDA approved for men, as well. Pellets are typically naturally occurring hormones that are pressed into a solid, little insert, about the size of a grain of rice.

How does it work?

Your pellet will release a small amount of your hormonal regimen straight into your bloodstream, similar to what your ovaries or testes would normally have produced in your younger years. Research shows that pellets are able to deliver a consistent level of hormones to your body, unlike some creams, gels, or pills which are also compounded. Pellets also reduce the risk of blood clots (venous thrombosis) associated with oral hormone replacement therapy because the hormones released from pellets enter the bloodstream directly and do not cause changes in blood clotting factors made in the liver the way oral medications can. It’s a win-win!

How is it used?

Hormone Replacement Pellets are used like any other Hormone Replacement Therapy to help our bodies regain some of its hormonal balance, which will improve everything from the emotional roller coaster to hot flashes. The pellet is just a convenient delivery method! It’s not for everyone, but getting your hormones “just right” no matter the method is critical.

How long does the procedure take?

It is a quick and painless (with numbing medication) outpatient office procedure. We will insert the HRT pellet right into your hip, abdomen or buttock area, and you’ll be on your way and back to your life!

How long till I see results?

It will only take 7-10 days for you to notice your HRT Pellet working on your symptoms.

How long will my pellet last?

HRT Pellets typically last 3-6 months for men and women.

How can I make an appointment? Call us at 202.293.1000 or email us to set up a consultation appointment with one of our specialists here in Washington, DC. Don’t wait to get back to living your normal life – call us today!

African American couple smiling with beverages and soft pretzels

If you or a loved one has an enlarged prostate known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), you are well aware of the negative effects it can have on your life, such as difficult or frequent urination. Maybe you’ve considered surgery, but the risks–including potentially worsening erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction, which you may already be experiencing due to BPH or the medications you’re taking in the first place–kept you from choosing that option.

We know living with BPH, which affects 12 times as many men as prostate cancer, can be a struggle. Men with BPH are more likely to suffer from depression, decreased productivity, a diminished quality of life, and interrupted sleep. Not treating BPH can cause symptoms to worsen and even lead to permanent damage to your bladder. What is one to do with these scary statistics and no good answers?

That’s where we come in! We are excited to share that the American Urological Association (AUA) now recommends on the UroLift® System “as a standard of care treatment for lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),” and our very own Dr. Rachel Rubin, a urologic surgeon, and sexual medicine specialist, is one of the early adopters of this new treatment option for men with BPH. The UroLift System is a “proven, minimally invasive treatment that fills the gap between prescription medications and more invasive surgical procedures.”

“The Urolift System is one of the few sex-friendly treatment options we have for BPH,” Says Dr. Rubin. “It is shown to improve flow, urinary frequency, and urgency, all while allowing men to maintain their ability to ejaculate normally and not increase the chances of erectile dysfunction.”

The UroLift System consists of a UroLift Delivery Device and small UroLift Implants. The implants widen the urethra within the enlarged prostate, alleviating the irritating symptoms related to BPH. Men who have received UroLift Implants report “rapid and durable symptomatic and urinary flow rate improvement without compromising sexual function,” according to clinical data collected in a study by the manufacturer of UroLift. You can learn more about some of the men UroLift has helped on the company’s website.

So what are you waiting for? Make an appointment with Dr. Rachel Rubin here in Washington, D.C. today to discuss the UroLift System and get relief for BPH now!

Vulvovaginal Atrophy

th_100candidiasis_vaginal_vulvovaginalThe symptoms of vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women most commonly include dryness (the sensation of dryness unrelated to sexual activity), and dyspareunia (difficult or painful sexual intercourse). The relative proportion of these two symptoms appears to vary. Reported differences in the relative prevalence of dryness vs. dyspareunia may have more to do with the frequency and type of sexual activity in the women surveyed than the prevalence of the symptom per se.

Other symptoms include vaginal itching, discharge, pain unrelated to sexual activity, bleeding, and increased susceptibility to both vaginal and urinary tract infections. Severe narrowing, shortening and ultimately the complete obliteration of the vaginal vault can occur. When such anatomic changes result sexual intercourse becomes impossible.  Even in milder cases, dyspareunia and reduced vaginal lubrication during sexual arousal commonly result in deterioration of a patient’s sexual quality of life, with aggravation and intensification of preexisting disorders of female sexual response.

Collectively, these physiologic changes and associated symptoms can impact all stages of the sexual response cycle, including desire, arousal, and/or orgasm. Overall sexual satisfaction is diminished. It is well documented that such effects not only impact the postmenopausal woman, but also interfere with her intimate partner relationships.  And unlike other menopausal symptoms which are usually temporary an eventually cease even without treatment, the problems associated with VVA usually increase with age in the absence of treatment.

Despite the prevalence of vulvovaginal atrophy and its associated symptoms, few women suffering from them report their problem/symptoms to their physicians or other healthcare professionals. Only 20 – 25% of affected women seek treatment. Despite the adverse impact of the vulvar, vaginal, and urinary tract symptoms on their quality of life, postmenopausal woman appear to silently and stoically accept their symptoms and the associated health problems as a natural and unavoidable part of the aging process. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals are often complicit in this, as they do not sufficiently query patients about their symptoms or inform them about the nature of the disease state.

The good news is that there exist many therapeutic options for the treatment of these symptoms, and not all of them hormonal. If your current healthcare professional seems disinterested in improving the quality of your life in this area, seek out one who does. There simply is no need to suffer in silence.

Vulvovaginal Atrophy – Are You Suffering in Silence?

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

Non-Hormonal Prescription Option for Hot Flashes

Hot-Flashes1Hot flashes and its nocturnal cousin, night sweats, the highly descriptive street names for the vasomotor symptoms (VMS) experienced by as many as 80% of menopausal women, are the most common of all menopausal symptoms.

No consensus exists on the pathophysiology of menopausal VMS, although many hypotheses have been proposed. Hot flashes (HFs) are hypothesized to result from a dysregulation of the hypothalamic temperature-regulating mechanisms, triggered by a decline in estrogen levels.

Alterations in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine (NE) are thus likely to play a crucial role in menopausal VMS. Core body temperature (CBT) is regulated between an upper threshold for sweating and a lower threshold for shivering. Between these thresholds is a “thermoneutral” zone, within which major thermoregulatory responses (sweating and shivering) do not occur. Fine thermoregulatory adjustments within the thermoneutral zone are affected by variations in peripheral blood flow. According to this theory, heat dissipation responses of HFs (sweating and peripheral vasodilation) would be triggered if CBT were elevated such that the upper threshold was crossed.

Hormone therapy (HT) has been known to be efficacious for most women with VMS due to menopause. Current clinical guidelines for HT recommend using the lowest dose for the shortest duration to relieve symptoms and reach treatment goals. Dose, route of administration, and duration of use should be tailored to the needs of each woman, and periodic reassessment of symptoms is required to evaluate whether a change of treatment is necessary. However, VMS recur in approximately half of women after discontinuation of HT. Certain health risks may preclude the use of HT in some patients, and some menopausal women with VMS who would otherwise be suitable candidates for HT prefer not to initiate or continue such treatments for a variety of reasons, including concerns about potential side effects.

When hormone therapy is not suitable or if there is an unwillingness to take HT, or if a woman simply prefers a non-hormonal therapy, the prescription medication, BRISDELLE, offers women and practitioners an FDA-approved, non-hormonal pharmacologic treatment option for moderate to severe VMS due to menopause. BRISDELLE® (paroxetine) 7.5 mg is a low-dose selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) shown to be efficacious in treating moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. This dose is lower than those used in treating psychiatric disorders. BRISDELLE is not indicated for depression or any other psychiatric condition. BRISDELLE’s efficacy, safety and tolerability were demonstrated in rigorous clinical trials specifically designed to treat moderate to severe hot flashes due to menopause

The median age of natural menopause is 51.3 years. Women of this age are no longer old and could expect to live an additional active 20 – 30 – 40 years with good health habits and proper medical care. There is no need to debilitate yourself by neglecting any condition for which there are suitable therapies available.

Talk to your doctor or health care professional about your options!

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

Is the FDA Approval of the “Pink Pill” a Probable Outcome?

18jdwo1qlvkujjpgA failure to approve flibanserin would set a dangerous precedent. Why? Because the pharmaceutical company did everything the FDA asked it to do, and the results came out statistically significantly better than placebo—which was the desired endpoint. If the FDA were to deny approval of the drug, it would be saying, in effect, that it can change its mind in the middle of the argument.

In reality, the FDA is likely to say yes to approval, but with restrictions, as that is what its advisory committee recommended. What those restrictions will be remains to be determined, but they are likely to resemble those of other drugs in the class, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including a warning to be careful using flibanserin with alcohol until the drug’s effects are clear.

 

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Opposition to the “Pink Pill” –  New View Campaign Has an Old View (Part 1 of a 4-Part Series)

During the public hearing portion of the advisory committee meeting, most of the testimony came from women seeking approval of the drug. However, there were some naysayers. Their arguments against approval boiled down to 4 perspectives. In my opinion, the arguments against the drug miss the mark.

The view is presented that development of flibanserin represents “medicalization” of a disorder that can be treated effectively with psychotherapy and education. This perspective is best embodied by an organization called the New View Campaign.

Refuting this perspective, however, is research in animal models that clearly demonstrates that HSDD (or its equivalent in animals) is the result of an imbalance between dopamine and norepinephrine on the positive end and serotonin on the negative end. These findings are supported by functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of women with HSDD who are shown erotic stimuli. The scans demonstrate that their brains respond differently from those of normal women. So if it’s all about education and counseling, why are the brains of women with HSDD functioning differently?

I would argue that, if depression and HSDD are both abnormalities of the serotonergic system (flibanserin is essentially an SSRI), then how can depression be a biologically based disorder but HSDD can’t? In my opinion, the New View Campaign isn’t new at all.

Continue reading “Opposition to the “Pink Pill””

Menopause PhysiciansThese days, it seems like hormone “treatment centers” are popping up all over the place, and online “pharmacies” are constantly pushing the latest and greatest hormones for menopausal and postmenopausal women. But what about the woman who is looking for individualized evidence-based counsel and care to help guide her through the menopause transition? Why is it so hard to find a physician who specializes in menopausal medicine?

Part of the reason dates back to the Women’s Health Initiative, a first-of-its-kind, 15-year study that included a trial on the effects of combined (estrogen-progestogen) hormone replacement therapy. Before the trial’s abrupt end in 2002, menopause care was a developing area of medicine, with a growing number of continuing education classes being offered to healthcare professionals, and the use of hormone therapy among postmenopausal women on the rise. But then the combined hormone therapy arm of the study was cut short—four years ahead of schedule—and news quickly spread of its controversial results.

Results showed that women taking the estrogen-progestogen combination had a greater incidence of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots—risks that far outweighed the benefits of hormone therapy. With this news, everything stopped. Patients were advised to discontinue treatment. Physicians were afraid to prescribe anything.

Unfortunately, the publicity surrounding the combined therapy results overshadowed the positive results of the estrogen-only therapy, which did not show an increased risk of heart disease or breast cancer. But the damage was done. The topic didn’t get much attention after that. And the impact on physician education was significant.

Ten years later, views on hormone therapy continue to evolve. For instance, recently released guidelines from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) indicate that many women can safely take hormone therapy. (To view the latest NAMS recommendations, click here. But I suppose some physicians are still a bit gun-shy about what remains a controversial topic in the media and even the medical community—despite the rapidly growing number of women seeking menopause care.

The fact remains, however, that the alternative treatment options—the online pharmacies and “hormone houses”—are no substitute for evidence-based medical care by a certified menopause practitioner. Menopause treatment is highly individualized and requires a patient-focused approach to care.

So do yourself a favor, and seek out a healthcare professional specially trained in the care of women during menopause. If you live in or around DC, I’d love the opportunity to partner with you in your care. And if you’re not local to DC, simply visit the NAMS website to find a certified menopause practitioner near you.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

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