Hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has been around for many years as a way to help women relieve menopausal symptoms. Yet, HRT has been a confusing topic for medical professionals and patients. The debate over the safety of HRT has been questioned since the Women’s Health Initiative study in 2002, which showed the therapy could have greater health risks than benefits.1,2
To clarify this study, researchers found that women taking Prempro (a combination of Premarin and Progestin) significantly increased breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke risks. Due to the chemical makeup of these synthetic treatments, they can have negative effects on the body. Fortunately, there are alternatives to conventional BHRT. Bioidentical hormones are another method for treating menopause and hormonal imbalances. This form of HRT comes from natural compounds and contains a molecular structure that is identical to hormones found in the body. The body uses BHRT the same way it uses hormones naturally produced in the body.
Hormones in the body are vital messengers that communicate between body tissues. When hormone levels become unbalanced or decrease, they can leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, depressed, and wear on your physical and mental abilities. If they stay unbalanced for too long, they can lead to greater health risks, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cognitive ailments, and certain forms of cancer.3,4
When should you consider taking BHRT?
There are different reasons to consider BHRT, but it is most commonly used for menopause or significant hormone imbalances. The need for HRT can be clearly defined through simple blood tests to determine your hormone levels.
Menopause – Symptoms of menopause are a common frustration among middle-aged American women. Menopause can be recognized with the development of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, depression, mood swings, low libido, fatigue, vaginal dryness, poor concentration, and unexplained weight gain.5
PMS – The main cause of PMS is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. PMS symptoms can be characterized with mood swings, bloating, heavy bleeding, breast tenderness, acne, migraine headaches, severe menstrual cramps, and fatigue. Women who have PMS are more susceptible to postpartum depression. Progesterone levels that are significantly high during pregnancy decrease rapidly after women deliver a baby, which can lead to postpartum depression.6
Andropause – Andropause is similar to menopause, but it affects men. It is mostly recognized through low libido, but other symptoms may include fatigue, increased irritability, loss of motivation, abdominal weight gain, decreased strength, and even occasional hot flashes. This can all be associated with a decrease in testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels can leave men more prone to cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer.7
Supplementing with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can restore and balance hormone levels to increase quality of life and offer greater protection against various chronic diseases.
1. Rossouw E. Anderson GL, Prentice RL, et al. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial, JAMA. 2002;288:321–333.
2. Gambrell RD. The Women’s Health Initiative reports: Critical review of the findings. The Female Patient. 2004; 29:25-41.
3. Holtorf K. The bioidentical hormone debate: are bioidentical hormones (estradiol, estriol, and progesterone) safer or more efficacious than commonly used synthetic versions in hormone replacement therapy? Postgrad Med. 2009 Jan;121(1):73-85.
4. Formby B, Wiley TS. Progesterone inhibits growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells: inverse effects on Bcl-2 and p53. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1998; 28(6): 360–369.
5. Newton KM, Buist DS, Keenan, NL, Anderson LA, LaCroix AZ. Use of alternative therapies for menopause symptoms: results of a population-based survey. Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jul;100(1):18-25.
6. Pearlstein T, Howard M, Salisbury A, Zlotnick C. Postpartum depression. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Apr;200(4):357-364.
7. Hoffman MA, DeWolf WC, Morgentaler A. Is low serum free testosterone a marker for high grade prostate cancer? J Urol. 2000 Mar; 163(3):824-827.