The Pros and Cons of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormones control the bodies’ essential functions and are an internal communication network between our body’s cells. The hormones’ roles include digestion, mood, appetite, immune function, and libido; that is why it is vital to keep hormonal balance in check.
What happens if there is an imbalance in your hormones? Well, it can affect your health and your entire well-being.
When people experience a hormonal drop or imbalance, they opt to use hormone replacement therapies, and one of the examples of these therapies is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
BHRT promises a “natural” solution to restore our hormone balance. But what is BHRT? How is it different from other hormone replacement therapies?
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is a therapy that treats men and women whose hormone levels decline or become unbalanced. Unlike conventional hormone therapy, BHRT is biochemically equal to the hormones our body produces.
This therapy uses bioidentical hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. The primary purpose of BHRT is to ease perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Aside from using it as a therapy to achieve hormone balance, this method is also used to improve cancer treatment symptoms and treat various conditions, which includes:
- insulin resistance
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
SYNTHETIC HORMONES FROM PLANT ESTROGEN
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a synthetic hormone that is derived from plant estrogens. These plant estrogens are chemically identical to those of the human body produce. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are some of the hormones which undergo replication to help in treatment.
These bioidentical hormones come in various forms, including:
Despite the cautions from the FDA, people still use this method to keep their hormone balance. Why do people use bioidentical hormones?
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY FOR HORMONE BALANCE
Our bodies experience a decline in various hormones as we age, hence the hormonal imbalance. These hormones are estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. The decline of these hormones can cause specific symptoms.
For menopausal women, BHRT uses one or more hormones to treat symptoms of menopause to keep the hormone balance. The symptoms common to women who experience a drop in their hormone balance may include:
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Low libido
- Sleeping problems
- Mood swings
For men, BHRT should be considered when there is:
- Changes in sexual function.
- Increased in body fat
- Less energy
- Emotional changes
- Trouble concentrating or remembering things.
BHRT is made from plant estrogens. However, some bioidentical hormones that drug companies make and under a physician’s orders can make compounded bioidentical hormones. This process is called compounding, and it typically involves ingredients being combined or altered to meet a patient’s needs. The FDA has endorsed hormone replacement therapies in the past but has yet to approve the custom-compounded bioidentical hormones.
Some companies manufacture and sell bioidentical hormones without controls for quality, safety, and purity. This urged medical organizations to stand against the marketing and use of unapproved bioidentical hormones. Despite the claims that compounded bioidentical hormones are more effective and safer than synthetic hormones, doctors and the FDA cautions that their claims don’t have a strong research backup. These hormones may be potentially dangerous in some cases.
DIFFERENT FROM THE CONVENTIONAL
Bioidentical hormones are different from conventional hormone replacement therapy. The bioidentical hormones are identical chemically to the ones our bodies produce naturally and are made from plant estrogens. In conventional HRT, the ones used are made from the urine of pregnant horses and other synthetic hormones.
Supporters and users of BHRT claim that the products are safer because they are “natural” and are identical in makeup to the hormones our body produces naturally. However, experts believe that BHRT and HRT carry similar risks. Using compounded bioidentical hormones may even have higher stakes. There’s still no evidence to prove the efficacy of BHRT.
THE PROS OF BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Bioidentical hormones are proven useful among men and women who experience a drop in hormone levels as people age. The BHRT is particularly beneficial for those who are in their perimenopause or menopause. Several studies were conducted in clinical settings, which produced evidence that BHRT increases the levels of hormones that have dropped. This therapy can also improve moderate to severe menopause symptoms, which includes:
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Sleep problems
- Pain during sex
- Loss of interest in sex
- Less bloating and less bleeding
- Improves bone density
Aside from helping with the symptoms of perimenopausal and menopause, hormone replacement therapy can also reduce the risk of diabetes, tooth loss, and cataracts. Doctors also found some evidence that it can also help improve skin thickness, hydration, and elasticity, reducing wrinkles. In one study, BHRT also provides relief to people with cancer treatment symptoms like low libido, migraines, and insomnia. A study also shows that breast cancer patients who undergo BHRT have a recurrence rate that is not higher than average.
THE CONS OF USING BHRT FOR HORMONE IMBALANCE
The FDA has approved progesterone and bioidentical estradiol preparations, but they are yet to support compounded bioidentical hormones. Some claim using bioidentical hormones is safer and more effective than HRT. These claims are still to be confirmed by large-scale, reputable studies, and the FDA urges caution in using compounded products.
Research has shown that BHRT has side effects, particularly in the early stages where your body adjusts to the hormones. The common side effects may include:
- increase facial hair in women
- mood swings
- weight gain
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is an option to help people ease their discomfort with their symptoms associated with low hormone levels. But, there are some side effects and risks that you should discuss with your doctor.
Let the professionals guide you. Visit health and wellness clinics like Solana Aesthetics and Wellness to be guided with your hormone balance.
If you opt to choose BHRT, FDA cautions against monitoring levels via blood and saliva tests and if you select any form of hormone therapy, use the lowest dose that proves effective for the shortest time.
Book an appointment so that you can experience the soothing effects of BHRT as soon as possible.