I got a phone call from a dear friend asking me about those “hormone pellets”. She is only 43 years old and premenopausal. She complained of fatigue to her gynecologist, and he offered her the pellets as a way to “balance her hormones” and feel great again.
I have seen patients come to me with levels of testosterone in the male range even months after having received “pellets.” For example, I had a patient who I treat for hypothyroidism, who simply went for a routine visit to her PCP and had blood work done. The Blood work showed an abnormal TSH, and given patient’s symptoms of fatigue, the levothyroxine dose was adjusted. To the patient’s surprise, she was then offered “hormone pellets” - though she had not complained of any menstrual issues nor low libido- just “to improve her energy even more.” Not to mention, the cost was $500 cash. I also had a 60-year-old lady who had never been on HRT given the “pellets” to address complaints of fatigue and other non-specific symptoms.
I learned early in my life that the reason to study history is to avoid the mistakes of the past. Back in the 1960s, some doctors used excess thyroid hormone as a way to help patients lose weight. The results: the muscles, bones, and heart got weak! Still, there are some providers who insist on this practice. Hormones are for real. When you give too much of a good thing it turns bad- and that is the case with the hormones in our bodies. We have all heard of the consequences of excess cortisol, estrogen, thyroid, testosterone, growth hormone…
I decided to investigate these hormones pellets. They are bioidentical pellets inserted into the hip area, a combination of estrogens and other hormones including testosterone – supposedly tailored to the patient’s needs. I checked the information on one of the most common pellets companies, BioTe Medical LLC, and it has not sought or obtained FDA approval on its products, nor for its method of hormones optimization. The Endocrine Society released a statement “recommending against the general use of Testosterone for the following indications: infertility, sexual dysfunction other than hypoactive sexual desire disorder, cognitive, cardiovascular, metabolic, or bone health, or general well-being.” The reason is because even though testosterone causes increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass, it also worsens the cholesterol profile, causes male pattern balding, hirsutism and acne. Also, do not forget that testosterone is actually converted to estrogens – so now patients are really getting high doses of these hormones and we know the effects on breast tissue and CV system.
Of course, the founder of the BioTe company, a gynecologist, released his own statement warning how the statements of the Endocrine Society is doing a disfavor to the women that can benefit from this therapy. Keep in mind, this is a huge business. One of the company’s BioBalance Health says physicians can “start a new practice or use your existing one to create an additional revenue stream of over $250,000 the first year for virtually no additional costs.”
I recently watched my daughter act in her first mainstage production at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach – it was D.W. Gregory’s Radium Girls. It is a play about the girls who worked at US Radium Company handling its products without any protection which resulted in illness and premature death. The funny thing was that in those days, the early 1920s, Radium was promoted as the cure for all! It was completely a marketing scheme to make a few men rich.
I strongly believe that we should all feel our optimal so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest. I do not oppose the use of postmenopausal hormones, but it needs to be done in a prudent way so that we do not cause unnecessary suffering in the long run. As Dr. Edward H. Rynearson, President of the Endocrine Society 1950-1951 and prominent endocrinologist from Mayo Clinic Minnesota stated in an interview with the Rochester Post, “People want to be duped. They want super-health and there is no such thing.” In 1974, he also wrote, “Americans love hogwash” (hogwash means nonsense- lol). Again, let us learn from history and avoid the same mistakes- let’s have some common sense!