Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is remarkably versatile. By supplementing the body’s natural hormone levels, HRT can be used to treat a broad spectrum of hormone-related conditions and symptoms, including perimenopause, menopause, and low testosterone. And while conventional hormone therapies are used successfully by many patients, custom-compounded bioidentical hormones are opening up new doors to treatment—both for patients who make the switch from conventionals and for patients who seek out bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) from the start.
One of the key features of custom-compounded BHRT is the ability to choose from a variety of administration methods. One of most appealing of these methods is pellet therapy. Known for their efficacy and convenience, hormone pellets can be used by both men and women to restore hormone balance and alleviate distressing symptoms. But should you be concerned about hormone pellet side effects? By deepening your understanding of this innovative administration method, you can better determine if hormone pellet therapy is right for you.
The Advantages of Hormone Pellets
Named for their compact, pellet-like shape, hormone pellets are inserted under the skin in a simple outpatient procedure and slowly release hormones over a period of several months as they dissolve. The pellets themselves are about the size of a grain of rice, which means they are virtually undetectable once implanted, and they can be used by both men and women to deliver several different hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
While hormone pellets can deliver the same bioidentical hormones as other methods (patches, gels, creams, pills, etc.), they have a number of distinct advantages. For many patients, the most significant of these is convenience. Pellets only need to be implanted every three to six months, which means you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day or get an injection every week or even multiple times per week.For people with busy lifestyles, this alone can make hormone pellets an ideal BHRT administration method. However, the sustained, set-it-and-forget-it efficacy of pellet therapy also has meaningful therapeutic implications; by removing the risk of user error and nonadherence, you may be more likely to experience optimal benefits from your treatment.
In addition to behavioral advantages, the mechanism behind hormone pellets can have significant benefits. As the pellets dissolve, they deliver a relatively steady dose of hormones.
This means that you can avoid the peaks and valleys of shorter-acting methods like pills, creams, and shots, potentially allowing you to achieve more consistent symptom relief and a more positive treatment experience. For women, estrogen pellets may also allow you to avoid the risks associated with oral estrogen therapy.
Understanding Hormone Pellet Side Effects
The advantages of hormone pellets make them a highly attractive option for many who are considering starting BHRT or who want to switch from another administration method. Additionally, pellets are well-tolerated by most patients. But, as with any medical treatment, hormone pellets may have side effects. However, these are typically mild, transient, and related to the insertion process.
Hormone pellet implantation is an in-office surgical procedure that typically only takes a few minutes. During the procedure, a local anesthetic is administered, a small incision is made, and the pellets are inserted into soft tissue in an area that will cause minimal discomfort, such as the back side of the hip above the glutes. The incision is then closed with Steri-Strips and covered by a small bandage. While you will likely be able to return to most of your normal activities immediately, you will be asked to avoid heavy exercise for about 2 to 5 days following the procedure.
For most patients, the implantation process is painless. However, some may experience side effects such as bruising, swelling, soreness, or redness at the incision site. There is also a small risk of infection any time an incision is made. However, major complications from hormone pellet insertion are exceedingly rare.
Hormone pellets do have one significant drawback: once they’re inserted, they cannot be removed. As such, any unwanted side effects produced by the hormones themselves can’t be easily resolved by reducing the dosage or discontinuing treatment. You must wait until the pellets dissolve naturally. There are medications that can be prescribed to mitigate negative symptoms if necessary. To minimize the risk of side effects, it’s essential to work with an expert hormone health practitioner who will understand your hormonal needs and takes a conservative approach to your treatment.
Partnering With the Right Practitioner
Whenever you are considering a new medical treatment, it’s important to ask questions. It’s also important that you find a health care practitioner who you can trust to give you accurate answers. You should only undertake treatment you fully understand and are comfortable with and only work with a practitioner who’s open in providing all the information you need to feel secure.
To ensure you have the best treatment experience possible, the practitioner you choose should be a top medical professional who specializes in hormone health and BHRT. They will work with you to create a customized treatment plan designed to fit your body and help you achieve your health goals—whether that includes hormone pellet therapy or another administration method. They will also track your progress over time and fine-tune your treatment plan to optimize efficacy and minimize or eliminate side effects.
By choosing the right practitioner, can get the guidance you need to make the best treatment choices and start your journey toward greater wellness.
If you want to know more about hormone pellets, BodyLogicMD can help. The BodyLogicMD network is comprised of top medical professionals who specialize in hormone health and BHRT. With the guidance of a BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner, you can find durable relief from your symptoms and discover new strategies for enhancing your quality of life. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about how hormones may be affecting your everyday life.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.