The medical community has begun seeing a growth in the use of hormone replacement therapy for different physical conditions. Now a widespread treatment available for females on a global level, particularly for those over the age of 35, hormone replacement therapy is able to manage the symptoms of menopause and reduce effects of osteoporosis. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, shortened to BHRT, is used specifically to balance hormones and improve one’s physical well-being.
Research shows that the use of these balance hormones typically provides relief symptoms from fatigue, bloating, impotence, low libido, and thinning hair; however, these effects do remain controversial. While some females swear by the BHRT’s beneficial effects, many remain wary of the therapy and its side effects. Despite evidence being shown of the advantages of BHRT, much of the literature provides mixed results regarding success and effectiveness of the treatment.
To identify whether BHRT is the most effective option for your particular treatment needs, it is important to consider the condition and the therapy. In certain cases, it may not be necessary to utilize hormone replacement therapy at all because lifestyle changes could help resolve health issues. This being said, issues such as menopause may require a more ‘intensive’ approach and many females feel that hormone replacement is the most beneficial option. This article will examine bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and the different pros and cons.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
BHRT is a form of treatment where hormones are used to resolve medical problems related to hormonal imbalance within the body. The hormonal imbalance is typically associated with aging and, as such, the treatment will be focused on medical conditions caused by aging. Bioidentical hormones are those hormones that are chemically identical to the hormones produced in the body.
In the majority of BHRT courses, the patient will increase or balance the level of hormones tied to reproduction including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones. As a female’s body ages and approaches menopause, there is a reduction in the production of these hormones, and this could result in symptoms such as fatigue, vaginal dryness, and thinning bones. By replacing the lost hormones, it is possible to balance the hormonal levels and eliminate any symptoms of menopause.
BHRT treatment can be applied in a plethora of ways including lotions, injections, medication, gels, sprays, and through oral supplements. All of these treatments have the primary aim of raising hormone levels and eliminating the symptoms associated with menopause. Examples of popular BHRT products include Vivelle-Dot and Estrace.
The production of these hormones typically increases during puberty in a female body and will reach its peak during the early 30s. Once a person reaches their mid-30s, the level of hormones will begin to decline and continue to remain at a low level for the remainder of one’s life. The reduction in hormone balance is unavoidable as a natural procedure, but it is possible for a person to control the rate of change and how a person can adapt to the effects.
BHRT can be highly beneficial in that it helps a person transition through the drop in hormone levels. This does not mean the replacement of hormones will eliminate a change in hormone levels, but it will make the transition less difficult. It is not the only solution as exercise and lifestyle change can help with this transition as well; however, it will provide assistance for people with more difficult age-related medical conditions.
Research has found that hormone replacement therapy can be highly beneficial for the treatment of osteoporosis. Bone thinning is a problem among individuals with menopause as well because a loss of estrogen and testosterone contributes to the difficulty. By replacing estrogen and testosterone, doctors can promote bone strengthening and defend against bone loss.
One of the most common symptoms associated with menopause is a hot flash or night sweat. When experiencing hot flushes or night sweats, the individual tends to suffer from sleep deprivation and consequential fatigue. Studies have found that oral application of HRT is effective in alleviating the symptom of hot flashes; thereby, eliminating feelings of fatigue and sleep deprivation.
The majority of women experiencing menopause report reduced libido and vaginal dryness. By undergoing BHRT and replacement of estrogen, it is possible to reduce vaginal dryness and increase the patient’s sex drive.
In addition to having several benefits, it is important to note that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can present with certain disadvantages. According to the FDA, preparation methods pharmacies use different preparation methods; therefore, females may not receive consistent hormone replacement treatment if using several pharmacies. Furthermore, the FDA reported that some compounded hormone preparations contain estriol which is an estrogen that is not FDA-approved.
Research has found that while BHRT can be useful in treating symptoms associated with age-related illnesses, marketers are promoting its use for additional conditions. The FDA reports that studies do not show any evidence of success treating Alzheimer’s, cancer, or heart disease. This must be remembered before undergoing hormone replacement therapy.