Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can come in all shapes and sizes, including sprays, lotions, gels and implants. While each has its pluses and minuses, hormone pellet implants offer unique benefits.
How Do Hormone Pellets Work?
A compounding pharmacy creates highly compressed hormone pellets, about the size of a Tic-Tac, containing hormones that match those produced by your body. Your OBGYN then implants the hormone pellets just under the skin, where they slowly release hormones over a period of three to four months.
The Implantation Process
In a small out-patient procedure, your OBGYN will use buffered Lidocaine to numb a small area, typically near the hip or in the lower abdomen. Then, the hormone pellet is inserted into the subcutaneous fat through a small incision. No stitches are required, as the site is sealed using a Steri-strip.
Your OBGYN will tape gauze over the incision site and apply pressure for a few minutes. It is recommended you avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for 24-hours.
Benefits of Hormone Pellets
Hormone pellets offer a minimally invasive option for hormone replacement therapy. Since it’s designed to slowly release the correct amount of hormones over a period of three to four months, there is no need to remember to take or apply medication once or twice a day.
In addition, estradiol side effects are minimized. When taken orally, 17-beta estradiol is metabolized by the liver and generates compounds that are associated with the risks of estrogen replacement. Since hormone pellets are absorbed by the body and by-pass the liver, these negative side effects are greatly reduced.
Risks and Challenges
Once the hormone pellet is placed, the dose remains constant for the life of the pellet. Therefore, when you first begin using hormone pellets, you may need to take oral medications to adjust doses until the subsequent implantation.
As with any incision, it is possible for the implantation site to become infected. If you encounter abnormal redness, pain or drainage, please reach out to your OBGYN.
If you’re interested in hormone pellets or hormone replacement therapy, discuss treatment options with your OBGYN.