If you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance, your doctor may suggest bioidentical hormone replacement therapy as a treatment option. It is important to understand what exactly this therapy is, how it works, and how bioidentical hormones are different from synthetic hormones.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are those with the exact same molecular structure as the hormones produced naturally within the human body. Although bioidentical hormones are synthesized in a lab (most commonly from plant estrogens,) they are chemically identical to the ones the human body produces itself. This is why they are called “bioidentical.” The list of bioidentical hormones available to patients currently includes 17 beta-estradiol, estradiol acetate, estradiol hemihydrate, and micronized progesterone USP.
What Is the Difference Between Bioidentical and Synthetic Hormones?
The main difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormones is the way the human body reacts to them. Synthetic hormones, unlike bioidentical hormones, do not have the exact same chemical structure as the hormones produced by the body itself. Because of this, synthetic hormones can lead to side effects, including heart disease, blood clots, breast cancer, and stroke.
Doctors began using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead of synthetic hormone replacement therapy in large part because it is associated with a lower risk of side effects such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, bioidentical hormones have been shown as effective and possibly more effective than synthetic hormones.
How Does Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Work?
Hormones act as chemical messengers within the body. They tell organs and systems when to start certain processes, how long to continue them for, and when to stop them. They are essential for the human body to function and even a slight imbalance can cause painful side effects. For example, hormones are the catalyst for a woman’s transition into menopause and they are the messengers that tell a woman’s body to begin lactating after giving birth. In men, hormones help regulate sperm production, sex drive, mood, and much more.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, is a treatment used to correct certain hormonal imbalances. A hormonal imbalance can be brought on by aging, stress, or more serious conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, and Cushing syndrome. BHRT works to restore balance to hormonal levels by supplying the body with hormones that are chemically identical to the ones it is no longer able to produce enough of on its own.
Who Can Benefit From Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Doctors may prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to treat a wide range of conditions in both men and women. BHRT is perhaps most commonly known as a treatment for women transitioning through menopause and men through andropause. It is also an effective treatment for men of any age suffering from a testosterone imbalance and BHRT can help treat common conditions such as fatigue and obesity.
In some cases, BHRT may even be used as an anti-aging treatment. Research has shown that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help improve skin elasticity, thickness, and hydration, as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What Can Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Be Used to Treat?
Conditions and ailments BHRT can be used to treat include:
- Insulin resistance
- Thyroid disorders
- Adrenal gland disorders
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues such as insomnia or trouble falling asleep
- Memory loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Low sex drive
- Pain during sex
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
For women going through menopause or perimenopause, BHRT can also help alleviate symptoms including:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty concentrating
Are There Any Side Effects Associated with BHRT?
Side effects associated with hormone replacement therapy, in general, include gallbladder disease, heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke. Side effects associated with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy specifically include weight gain, bloating, acne, breast pain or soreness, nausea, irritability, and facial hair growth in women. Many side effects are mitigated by conducting a formal risk assessment, having blood and diagnostic testing, and dosing properly.
It is important to provide your doctor with a complete medical history before beginning this or any new treatment. In addition, you should notify your doctor right away if you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above.
What Should I Expect During Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be administered in several ways. These hormones are available in the following forms:
- Implanted pellets
Your doctor will determine your particular course of treatment based on your personal medical history and the condition BHRT is being used to treat. You should expect to be monitored closely while undergoing this therapy, as it is important that the lowest effective dose possible is used. The goal is to restore balance, so getting just the right dosage for your body is imperative.
If you are considering bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, Aspire Regenerative can help. Our doctors make treatment recommendations tailored to each unique patient to help patients achieve their personal health and wellness goals.