The Ultimate Guide to the Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
According to findings published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, when the Harris survey and Rose survey were conducted in the year 2015 on a control group, they found that between 1 million and 2.5 million women were using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, also called compounded hormone therapy or CHT, every year. And this figure accounts for 28% to 68% of hormone therapy prescriptions given out by doctors.
Healthcare practitioners are increasingly relying on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) as the answer to the health issues both men and women face. This form of treatment has been used to reverse the symptoms of menopause since the year 2002, and women have been talking about the benefits of this therapy that have helped them improve the quality of their lives.
Now, with advancements in technology and extensive research, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy seeks to change the landscape of health rejuvenation permanently.
Let’s take a closer look and see how this revolutionary treatment can benefit your health, and help you fight the process of aging. But first, let’s consider how any one of your primary hormones might require therapy in the first place.
The Cause of Hormone Imbalances
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to patients who have been undergoing symptoms of hormone imbalance. These signs can manifest themselves as women approach the end of their reproductive years and men cross the age of 30. However, aside from the natural response to aging, hormone levels can become skewed because of various other environmental factors, illnesses, reactions to the medications, and even post medical procedures.
Surprisingly, the processed meats and other foods that are a part of daily consumption, common household cleaning agents, and even feminine hygiene products, also contain chemicals like xenoestrogens that can mimic the natural hormones produced in the body and cause hormone imbalance in men and women.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance in Women
Women experiencing hormone imbalance sense many symptoms that are often similar to the signs of aging. In the figure below, you’ll see how levels of estrogen and progesterone decline rapidly in the years from 40 to 50. However, these symptoms can be alleviated by using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Symptoms that point to the need for therapy can include:
- Unexplained weight gain despite following a healthy diet and exercise plan
- Lack of libido and vaginal dryness
- Shrinking muscle mass
- Increase in fat on the belly
- Irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Difficulty in concentration and memory loss
- Disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia
- Hot flashes and sweating
- Lack of stamina and inability to perform daily activities
- Digestion issues and flatulence.
(Source: Menopause Support)
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalances in Men
Similar to women, men also experience hormone imbalances and declining levels of testosterone after the age of 30. In the figure below, you can see that the amount of testosterone in the male body declines steadily after age 20, and so, almost all men can benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that is specifically engineered to meet their individual needs. Typical symptoms can include:
- Shrinking muscle mass
- Lack of libido
- Hot flashes and nocturnal sweating
- Irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Increase in belly fat
- Weakening bones
- Disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia
- Lack of stamina
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Development of male breasts.
(Source: Spartagen XT)
The Downsides of Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy
Prior to 2002, doctors prescribed conventional hormone replacement therapy to help women with menopausal issues. Men were also given HRT to treat them for hormone imbalance they faced – commonly testosterone deficiency. However, a study conducted in 2002 by the Women’s Health Initiative, or WHI, found that this form of treatment can cause serious after-effects. For instance:
- Although approved by the FDA, conventional hormone replacement therapy supplements raised the risks of stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer in women.
- As opposed to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, standard hormone replacement therapy uses compounds derived from synthetic hormones or chemicals developed from animal sources.
- The supplements given in conventional hormone replacement contain amounts of testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol. However, the chemical balance in the human body also includes other hormones that must be carefully synchronized to maintain good health. While the basic hormones in the supplements do not cause harmful side-effects, the addition of other chemicals in conventional therapy can cause breast cancer. These additives can include norethindrone acetate, medroxyprogesterone acetate, and others.
- Another important downside of conventional hormone replacement pills is the method in which they are administered. When taken orally, they are carried by the bloodstream to the liver where they interact with other body systems to produce harmful products.
Many or all of these side-effects can be avoided by using a correctly administered bioidentical hormone replacement therapy plan.
Opting for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Since the release of the report by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002, women and healthcare professionals are looking for alternatives to standard hormone replacement therapy that does not have the side-effects, but can improve the health of men and women going through hormone imbalance. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy could be the answer.
So why would you consider BHRT?
- The supplements are created keeping in the mind the needs of the individual patient. Each supplement and the optimum dosage is carefully worked out after conducting saliva and blood tests to ascertain the exact hormone disparity. Doctors also keep in mind that hormone levels can vary all through the day and conduct tests accordingly.
- The compounds used to treat hormone imbalances are derived from natural plant sources (Wild Yam and Soybean plants) and are absolutely safe to use.
- Bioidentical supplements for women are biochemically similar to the compounds made in women’s ovaries during their fertile years and have a similar molecular structure. This is why they are not likely to have any adverse side-effects.
- In addition to progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, doctors also include compounds like DHEA or pregnenolone, that are an essential part of correctly administered therapy.
- Women taking bioidentical compounds report lowered menstrual flows and less susceptibility to bloating.
- Patients on the therapy are asked to come in from time to time so doctors can monitor their blood serum levels and check how the supplements are working.
- Bioidentical supplements can be administered in different forms such as gels, patches, pills, creams, and vaginal rings, depending on how the patients respond to the therapy. The hormones in these supplements are easily absorbed by the bloodstream and are instantly available to your cells.
Are You Suited to Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Although bioidentical hormone replacement therapy supplements have many positives and are safe to take, doctors may choose not to recommend them to certain patients. They may instead prescribe lifestyle changes and other options to assist:
- Women that have had endometrial cancer or breast cancer
- People who have had blood clots and strokes
- People who have had cardiovascular problems.
The Effectiveness of Bioidentical Hormones
To understand whether or not bioidentical hormones are really effective, consider the results of the study released by BioMed Central.
A group of women between the ages of 18 and 89 were given bioidentical supplements and their effects were studied over a period of 7 years. 71% of the women were given supplements in the form of creams while 41% took pills.
It was found that these women noticed a 25% easing in their symptoms of irritability and a 22% lowering of anxiety levels. They also felt up to 25% more emotionally stable. In addition, they also experienced a 14% and 6% alleviation of symptoms of night sweats and hot flashes, respectively.
These statistics point to the fact that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help women overcome the undesirable effects of hormone imbalance.
Are Bioidentical Hormones FDA-Approved?
Conventional hormone replacement supplements are created out of synthetic and animal-based sources and thus, they can be patented. As a result, drug companies can apply for and get approval since they maintain their manufacturing processes. Since bioidentical hormones are derived from plant sources, they cannot be patented or approved by regulating agencies.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be given in two forms – by way of supplements manufactured by drug companies and those manufactured in compounding pharmacies. The pills and supplements that are sold by drug companies are manufactured in standard form and in controlled doses. These supplements are approved by the FDA because of their standardized form that can be supervised and monitored. The custom-made supplements created by the compounding labs are designed keeping in mind the individual needs of the patient and thus, cannot be standardized. Hence, the FDA does not give its approval to these compounds.
The custom-made supplements created by the compounding labs are designed keeping in mind the individual needs of the patient and thus, cannot be standardized. Hence, the FDA does not give its approval to these compounds.
But just because they aren’t FDA-approved doesn’t mean they aren’t safe. It’s the customizable nature of bio-identical hormones which makes them better for your body, and your health.
The Safety of Bioidentical Hormones
Despite the fact that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is not approved by the FDA, it is no less safe or effective than conventional supplements. In fact, many people might find that the bioidentical compounds are more suitable for them if they are allergic to some of the additives in the products approved by the FDA. Such patients might also find that the standardised dosages in the approved products might not alleviate their symptoms and they need the customized products provided by compounding labs.
Even so, patients must remember that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy should be taken only under the supervision of an accredited health care professional. They must also make sure to take only the dosages prescribed and for the recommended period only. To further ensure that the customized supplements are safe to use, patients can get them from pharmacies that have the approval of government agencies. Patients can also make enquiries into the quality assurance procedures these labs have in place before placing their orders.
There’s No Better Time for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
So if you’ve been sitting on the fence while noticing some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance, maybe it’s time you considered the outweighing benefits of a customized bioidentical hormone replacement therapy treatment plan, and consult a professional who can test your hormone levels, and prescribe the best plan for you.
Contact the team at BHRC to schedule a hormone imbalance test, and start your journey to better health through balanced hormones.
Effectiveness of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Observational Cohort Study