Anti-Aging Medicine: Dr. Monica Gavin and Pharmacist Scott Wertz
Apr 29, 2015 11:37PM
● By Julianne Hale
Dr. Monica Gavin
After a firsthand experience with the symptoms of menopause, Monica Gavin, M.D., developed an interest in anti-aging medicine. “I had every symptom possible—lack of sleep, mood swings, increased abdominal fat and decreased energy,” she explains. “I went to my gynecologist and she did not offer any solutions except progesterone.”
That single treatment option frustrated Gavin and compelled her to conduct her own research and study anti-aging medicine. That quest eventually led to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. “For me, it was truly a miracle,” says Gavin. “It took care of every symptom I had. I have no hot flashes, I’ve got lots of energy and no mood swings.”
Gavin has been practicing anti-aging medicine for five years now. In addition to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, her practice, Azani Medical Spa, in Bethlehem, offers wrinkle correction, skin tightening, acne therapy, laser hair removal, Botox and aesthetics. All plastic surgery procedures at Azani are performed by Dr. Benjamin Lam, who is board certified in plastic surgery.
Unlike synthetics, the hormones that Gavin prescribes are identical to the human molecule and provide a much safer, higher quality alternative to the one-size-fits-all synthetic hormones typically prescribed by physicians. “About 95 percent of the patients that I have taken care of for the past five years have fantastic results from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy,” reports Gavin.
Most of Gavin’s patients come to her after their attempts to discuss bioidentical hormones with a family physician or gynecologist are met with a lack of knowledge or an unwillingness to prescribe. When a patient comes to see Gavin about menopause or andropause (menopause in males), she performs a comprehensive exam, reviewing the patient’s medical history, getting bloodwork and saliva to test hormone levels. She uses this information to create a customized prescription tailored to each patient’s individual needs.
“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hormones,” explains Gavin. “Synthetic hormones only come in one strength. I write a prescription for each patient that must be taken to a compounding pharmacist, who puts it all together and dispenses it.” The prescriptions come in sublingual form (under the tongue), drops, cream, oral capsules and injections.
Scott Wertz is a compounding pharmacist and owner of The Medicine Shoppe, in Reading, where Gavin has a satellite office. The family-owned business was started by Wertz’s parents in the early 1980s. After they retired, Wertz took over the business and changed the focus. “I decided to stop doing traditional dispensing and focus on compounding only, which is more professionally rewarding for me,” he explains.
In addition to compounding custom bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for his clients, Wertz helps patients who have swallowing issues and cannot take pills in the form made by the manufacturer, young children who need very small doses of a specific medication, patients who require custom doses and veterinarians. “Compounding is a return to the old-school way that pharmacists operate. We are seeing a resurgence in this kind of pharmacy work right now as consumers become aware of compounding as an option,” explains Wertz. “Drug companies cannot make everything for everyone because one size does not fit all when it comes to certain drugs.”
Wertz attributes the rising awareness and use of compounding pharmacies, in part, to the shift that occurred a few years ago when research suggested that the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke was increased for patients taking certain synthetic hormones. “Compounders can make bioidentical hormones that are thought to be safer and more protective. These hormones are our biggest request in the store and they are usually prescribed in cream form,” says Wertz.
“There tends to be a general lack of understanding about what compounding pharmacies do,” explains Wertz. “Some think that compounding pharmacies are completely unregulated, but that is not the case. The drug powders used at The Medicine Shoppe are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are of high quality and pure. There are regulations that we have to adhere to in order to put out a finished product and we use high-tech, sophisticated equipment to create a high-quality product that meets each patient’s specific needs.”
Women and men who suffer with symptoms of menopause and andropause can find relief in the form of the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment provided by Gavin and the compounding pharmaceutical medications created by Wertz. Working together, this pair of innovative medical professionals is improving the quality of life for many through safe and effective treatments.
Azani Medical Spa is located at 3101 Emrick Blvd., Ste. 201, Bethlehem. For more information, call 610-625-3000 or visit AzaniMedicalSpa.com. The Medicine Shoppe is located at 1170 Perkiomen Ave, Reading. For more information, call 610-378-1396 or visit ReadingMedicineShoppe.com.
Julianne Hale is a freelance writer and editor. She blogs at AnotherGrayHair.wordpress.com and can be reached at [email protected]