Natural hormone therapy or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a natural alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and is used to treat common hormone production issues in the body. BHRT is often used to treat women and men that have experienced a drop or imbalance in hormone levels. Typically, this therapy is frequently used to treat menopause and perimenopause. As bioidentical hormones are created with derivatives from plant estrogens, it is often thought to be safer than traditional hormone replacement therapy. However, as with any other partially man-made treatment, there are risks or side effects associated with BHRT.
Are There Side Effects to Hormone Therapy?
Experts believe there are similar side effects and risks between BHRT and HRT. While some hormones for BHRT have been approved by the FDA, certain compounded bioidentical hormones haven’t been approved. Though many studies claim that the hormones used in BHRT are safer as they almost identically mimic the ones found in the human body, this hasn’t been tested on a larger-scale. Additionally, the human body takes time to adjust to any new influx of hormones, so side effects are almost always a guarantee. As such, the FDA and medical experts warn anyone interested in using these treatments to exercise caution. The following are side effects associated with BHRT:
- Increased growth of facial hair
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
Several experts expect BHRT to have similar risks to traditional HRT. The following are risks for hormone replacement therapy:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Blood clots
The risks of these conditions can be reduced by the amount of hormone taken, the type of product used to deliver hormones, and the decision to commit to healthier lifestyle choices. However, many men and women are not able to take BHRT or traditional forms of hormone replacement. Moreover, the side effects and risks vary among patients depending on their health history. It’s best to discuss this type of treatment with a doctor before beginning hormone replacement therapy.
The Benefits of Hormone Therapy
BHRT is often used as patients get older and their hormone levels begin to drop. These treatments work to improve this drop in hormones and to treat menopause symptoms and similar issues. BHRT benefits include treating the following menopause symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Pain during sex
- Lack of interest for sex
- Sleep issues
- Memory loss
- Mood changes
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
In addition to treating the above symptoms, BHRT has been proven to reduce one’s risk for cataracts, tooth loss, and diabetes. Additionally, some evidence points to this treatment’s effectiveness in improving hydration, elasticity, skin thickness, and reducing wrinkles. BHRT has also been proven to be beneficial in some cancer patients. According to certain studies, cancer patients treated with BHRT experienced relief from insomnia, a low libido, incontinence, and migraines.
The Best Candidates for Hormone Replacement
Despite some of the risks associated with hormone therapy, BHRT and traditional hormone replacement therapy tend to be the most effective in treating symptoms associated with menopause. For many, the benefits outweigh the risks. You may be an ideal candidate for hormone replacement if you:
- Stopped experiencing periods prematurely (before the age of 40)
- Have experienced a loss of bone mass and can’t tolerate other treatments
- Regularly experience hot flashes or similar menopausal symptoms
- Lost normal ovarian function as a result of premature ovarian insufficiency
Women that reach menopause prematurely will likely benefit from hormone therapy the most. When determining if you’re the best candidate for BHRT or traditional hormone therapy, your age and medical history will affect a doctor’s decision. However, anyone that has previously had ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, liver disease, unexplained vaginal bleeding, stroke, or blood clots should avoid hormone therapy. Additionally, women that start menopause after 45 or haven’t experienced menopausal symptoms don’t need hormone therapy. Instead, these individuals should speak with their doctors about reducing common health risks like heart disease and osteoporosis. To learn more about natural hormone replacement, please call us at 205-352-9141. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day.