Land Park’s boutique pharmacy is working to treat “manopause”
John and Michelle Ortego had a unique idea when they opened Parkside Pharmacy in 2009—to combine their interests and expertise in compounding, pharmaceuticals, skin care and gifts. What evolved was a business that customers enjoy visiting, whether for customized medicine or a spa day.
“We had a business plan that had won national recognition and when Land Park Pharmacy was bought and closed by Rite Aid, the stars aligned just right for us to come in and do a start-up business in a spot that had been a corner drug store for over 50 years,” says John Ortego.
Ortego, a Sacramento native and 2006 Doctor of Pharmacy graduate from University of the Pacific, hopes to carry on the tradition of the independent pharmacists who served the Land Park neighborhood before him. One condition he is treating is a bit unknown: manopause (also known as andropause or male menopause). Yes, you read it correctly! This term is used to describe the changes in hormone production that men experience as they age. A November 2012 blog post on Ortego’s website by Heather Sakai, a pharmacist and former intern to Ortego, states that the level of testosterone in men can start to decline gradually as early as 35 years old, at a rate of 1 to 1.5 percent annually. It also states that this decline is seen in about 39 percent of males over 45 years old.
“Often we sort of overlook men, because we don’t think of men as going through menopause, having hot flashes, mood swings, etc.,” says Ortego, who treats some of his male patients with biodentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), a solution that has gained popularity to resolve menopause in women.
Ortego’s “manopause” patients may be experiencing weakness, fatigue, and decreased muscle mass and bone density. They may also suffer from depression, hair loss and/or sexual issues. To check testosterone levels, he performs a saliva test.
“It’s not always just as simple as testosterone though,” says Ortego. “The adrenals and thyroid need to be considered as well, along with diet, exercise and life’s stressors. I like to make sure men that come in seeking answers are referred to a practitioner who will look at them from a holistic or functional approach.”
If it’s determined to treat the patient with BHRT versus a more conventional method, the approach involves supplementing hormones that are molecularly identical to the hormones produced in the body, available from compounding pharmacies. According to Sakai’s article, the concept of using BHRT in men is similar to the treatment in women, just with different hormones. The main benefit? Using compounded medications enables the pharmacist to provide individualized treatment—the strength of the medicine, schedule of when to take it, and how it is administered can all be customized.
This past year, Ortego attained Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB) certification, a status that no other compounding pharmacy in the greater Sacramento valley can claim.
“On a daily basis, we are receiving genuine gratitude from people we’ve customized very specialized medicine for,” says Ortego. “Sometimes it’s literally life-sustaining, while other times it might just be saving them money or adding convenience. Doctors and veterinarians rely heavily on us to help solve problems in situations where without compounding there often would be no acceptable solution.”