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What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a type of hormone therapy that involves using hormones that are identical to the hormones naturally produced by the body. BHRT is often used to treat symptoms of hormonal imbalances, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and low libido, which can occur during menopause in women and andropause in men.

BHRT is typically administered in the form of creams, gels, patches, or pellets, which are placed under the skin or inserted into the vagina. The hormones used in BHRT are typically synthesized from plant sources, such as yams or soybeans, and are designed to be chemically identical to the hormones produced by the human body.

BHRT is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment option for hormonal imbalances, but it is not suitable for everyone. It is important to discuss all of the potential risks and benefits of BHRT with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.

What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that are made by your endocrine glands. The glands release hormones into your bloodstream to be carried to the appropriate body part. Hormones control quite a few functions in your body such as: 

  • Metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Growth
  • Sexual function

It’s difficult for you to function properly when your hormones are out of balance. A hormone imbalance can cause weight gain or mood swings that affect your day-to-day life. Taking hormones can help people whose bodies don’t make enough of a certain hormone, or whose hormone levels are unbalanced. 

Bioidentical hormones are just one type of man-made hormones available. Of all the hormones out there, the bioidentical type is the closest to the real thing. These hormones are chemically identical to the ones your body makes, so you can absorb them easily. Bioidentical hormones are made in a laboratory and can come in different forms.  

Natural hormones are another type of hormone on the market today. They come from natural sources like yams and soybeans. But don’t be fooled by the name itself. Natural hormones require lots of processing for them to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and sold. 

Hormones can come in different forms like pills, creams, injections, and gels.

How Is BHRT different from traditional HRT?

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a form of hormone therapy that uses hormones that are chemically identical to those produced by the human body. These hormones are usually derived from natural sources, such as soy or yams, and are made to have the same chemical structure as the hormones produced by the body.

Traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), on the other hand, uses synthetic hormones that are not identical to those produced by the body. These hormones are often derived from animal sources and may have slightly different chemical structures than the hormones produced by the body.

There is ongoing debate about the potential differences between BHRT and traditional HRT, including whether BHRT may be safer or more effective. Some studies have suggested that BHRT may be associated with a lower risk of certain side effects, such as blood clots, compared to traditional HRT. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential differences between these two approaches to hormone therapy.

It is important to note that both BHRT and traditional HRT are used to treat symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and may also be used to manage other hormone-related conditions, such as low testosterone in men. Both approaches to hormone therapy should be individualized and carefully monitored by a healthcare provider to ensure that they are safe and effective.

At our practice, we use an individualized approach to hormone replacement therapy. We assess each patient’s individual hormonal status using their medical history, symptoms, and lab work. We then implement a protocol individually tailored for that particular person. Therapy is then carefully monitored, and if necessary, modified or titrated in accordance with clinical and laboratory results.

Common Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, when the body begins to experience changes in hormone levels that ultimately lead to the end of fertility. Menopause is the end of the menstrual cycle and is defined as the point at which a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.

During perimenopause and menopause, many women experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms due to the changes in hormone levels. Common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause include:

  • Hot flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth, often accompanied by a red, flushed face and sweating
  • Night sweats: Hot flashes that occur during sleep
  • Vaginal dryness: Dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissue, which can cause discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Mood changes: Mood swings, irritability, and difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Changes in menstrual cycle: Irregular periods, heavier or lighter periods than usual, or periods that are closer together or farther apart than usual
  • Low libido: Decreased interest in sex
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Weight gain: Changes in metabolism and hormone levels can lead to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen

It is important to note that these symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and not all women will experience all of these symptoms. Some women may have few or no symptoms, while others may experience more severe symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are affecting your quality of life, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment.

Impact of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy On Your Health

The potential impact of BHRT on an individual’s health can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the specific hormones used, the dose and delivery method, and the individual’s overall health status. Some potential benefits of BHRT may include:

  • Relief of menopausal symptoms: BHRT may help to alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, as well as improve mood, sleep, and memory.

  • Improved bone health: BHRT may help to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones to become weak and fragile.

  • Improved cardiovascular health: Some studies have suggested that BHRT may have a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels, although more research is needed to fully understand this relationship.

It is important to note that while BHRT may offer some potential benefits, it is not without risks. Some potential risks of BHRT may include:

  • Increased risk of blood clots: Hormone therapy, including BHRT, may increase the risk of blood clots, which can cause serious complications, such as stroke or heart attack.

  • Increased risk of breast cancer: Some studies have suggested that long-term use of hormone therapy, including BHRT, may increase the risk of breast cancer, although the magnitude of this risk is unclear.

  • Other potential risks: Other potential risks of BHRT may include weight gain, bloating, and swelling.

It is important to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of BHRT in consultation with a healthcare provider. BHRT should be individualized and carefully monitored to ensure that it is safe and effective.

How are bioidentical hormones given?

Bioidentical hormones are usually prescribed and compounded by a healthcare provider or pharmacist, who can customize the dose and delivery method to meet the specific needs of the individual. Bioidentical hormones are available in a variety of forms, including:

  • Oral pills: Bioidentical hormones can be taken in pill form, either as a single daily dose or divided into two or more doses.

  • Patches: Bioidentical hormones can be delivered through a patch placed on the skin, which slowly releases the hormone over a 24-hour period.

  • Gels: Bioidentical hormones can be applied as a gel, which is absorbed through the skin.

  • Creams: Bioidentical hormones can be applied as a cream, which is absorbed through the skin.

  • Pellets: Bioidentical hormones can be delivered in the form of tiny pellets that are inserted under the skin. These pellets slowly release the hormone over a period of several months.

The specific delivery method chosen will depend on the specific hormone being used, the individual’s needs and preferences, and other factors. It is important to carefully follow the recommendations of a healthcare provider and to regularly monitor hormone levels to ensure that treatment is safe and effective.