At Living Wellness Medical Center, we specialize in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. There are many methods to introduce hormones into the body, from pellets, lozenges, creams, troches, or capsules. However, in this blog post, naturopathic doctors Dr. Brouwer and Dr. Turner discuss pellet therapy and how this method differs from the rest.
Question #1: What Makes a Patient a Perfect Candidate for Pellet Therapy?
Dr. Brouwer: Choosing to do hormone pellets as the delivery system for hormones is just a personal choice. You can use capsules or troches, lozenges, creams. There are all sorts of different ways. But people really like to use pellets mostly because of convenience. You simply get a pellet placed once every three months instead of having to do something every day.
When it comes to testosterone replacement therapy, I think a good candidate for pellets would be men over the age of 40 or men with low testosterone levels. Women who are post‑menopausal or even in perimenopause (before their ovaries stop making hormones altogether) can still use testosterone pellets effectively.
Question #2: How Long Do the Pellets Last in a Male Versus a Female?
Dr. Brouwer: They last around three to four months for men or women. However, they can be used up faster if you’re very athletic and very active.
Question #3: What Are the Different Types of Hormones That You Can Get in a Pellet?
Dr. Brouwer: Well, the pellets that we do here at Living Wellness Medical Center are estradiol, which is the estrogen that’s most commonly used in hormone replacement therapy, and testosterone.
Question #4: If a Woman Has Been on Hormone Replacement Therapy Already, Can She Transition From Other Methods (Cream, Troche, Lozenge, Etc.) to Pellets?
Dr. Brouwer: Certainly! For estrogen or testosterone, but not for progesterone.
Progesterone needs to be taken orally. It doesn’t go through the skin well. Pellets are considered a topical application since the hormone is picked up through the skin’s blood vessels and then distributed. Progesterone just doesn’t go through the skin very well that way.
Question #5: Can You Describe the Procedure of Putting in the Hormone Pellet?
Dr. Brouwer: It’s an easy procedure done in our office. It probably takes around 15 or 20 minutes to complete. The only thing we need to know before we do the procedure is if somebody is sensitive to lidocaine, as that’s the numbing agent we typically use at Living Wellness Medical Center.
We inject a little bit of lidocaine under the skin and make a tiny incision about a quarter-inch long. Then, we put the pellets in subcutaneously (under the fat and deep under the skin), so you won’t feel it at the surface because it’s very far down under the skin. Lastly, We put the pellets in and then tape the area shut with Steri Strips.
As far as the pain level, I think the worst part of the procedure is the numbing because lidocaine can really sting as when it’s injected.
Question #6: Does the Lidocaine Feel Like a Little Bee Sting?
Dr. Brouwer: Yes, it’s like a little bee sting, which you could be familiar with if you’ve ever had numbing at the dentist’s office. Lidocaine is the same thing that they use. So, it’s easy and simple.
For aftercare, what people need to know is that when you’re going to get your pellets done, you’re not going to do any kind of heavy-duty exercise for the next three days. This is because we place them right in the back, above the hip, in that little fatty area, or the little muffin-top area.
That area is right over your gluteus muscles, which are your butt muscles, and when you’re exercising (for example: doing squats, lunges, biking, steep hiking), it’s going to get irritated a little. So for three days, there is no heavy-duty exercise and no intense yoga. That’s really the only restriction to know about.
Question #7: What About Pain After the Procedure? Is the Hormone Pellet Something That Will Hurt Later?
Dr. Brouwer: It really shouldn’t hurt. If we get the placement right, it’s going to be in tissue that’s undisturbed. Because I’m putting a foreign object into your body, of course, your body is going to have a reaction to that. Your body will start some healing, and you’ll have a little tenderness, maybe a little tiny bit of swelling. However, the area shouldn’t be hot, and it shouldn’t have any kind of redness reaction. Pain would be a bad reaction, but normally after a couple of days, even that little bit of tenderness goes away.
Actually, I did pellets for a patient, and she said how comfortable it was getting it done in our office. She mentioned that she’s had it done elsewhere and that she had pretty severe pain for four or five days afterward. But that’s not my experience; I’ve never had that happen. If the pellet is placed correctly and the procedure is done right, then you shouldn’t have pain in the following days, other than just a little tiny bit of bruising.
Hormone Pellet Therapy Free Consult
If you are interested in hormone replacement therapy or if you have questions about the hormone pellet, we can do a free meet and greet call with you. Call 480-588-6856 to schedule a FREE brief meet and greet with one of our naturopathic doctors.