Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is an individualized alternative treatment to help those women experiencing changes associated with loss of their hormones. Unlike synthetic hormones which are routinely prescribed and mass-produced, BHRT are derived from natural sources and have the exact chemical structure of our body’s own hormones. The benefits of such therapy include improvement of hot-flashes, insomnia, mood swings, memory, skin tone and libido. It can help with prevention or reversal of osteoporosis, decrease risk of heart disease and even help with gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and reflux. During menopause, women can gain an average of 10-20 pounds, balanced hormones can help with this problem when combined with healthy lifestyle.
- notice your changes
- educate yourself about treatment options
- consult an expert
- have all your hormones tested
- think that there is nothing to do about your hormone changes
- take over-the-counter supplements without talking to your doctor
- forget about your overall health goals
The changes that occur during menopause can be very subtle or drastic. Signs and symptoms of menopause include insomnia, hot-flashes, night sweats, mood swings, lack of sex drive, vaginal dryness, migraines, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, abdominal bloating, indigestion, constipation, unexplained weight gain especially in the mid-section, panic attacks, palpitations and even depression. Most women see their primary care doctors for these complaints with no specific outcomes after evaluations. They are often started on prescription medications that not only mask the symptoms but can also cause other adverse effects. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can help treat the underlying cause of these symptoms.
Choices for treating menopause symptoms range from over-the counter supplements such as Black Cohosh, Dong-Quai, Evening Primrose Oil and Chasteberry just to name a few. Any supplement must be taken with caution and you must make sure that there are no contraindications to their use. Synthetic hormones which require a prescription are derived from pregnant horse’s urine and are not made in the exact chemical structure of our body’s natural hormones. Synthetic hormones are prescribed on the basis of whether a woman has her ovaries and went through natural menopause versus having surgical menopause after a total hysterectomy. These hormones come in standardized doses and are not individualized to meet all of a woman’s hormonal needs. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, when prescribed by a trained medical professional, is an individualized therapy which takes into account all hormonal needs to make sure they are properly balanced. These hormones are the exact chemical structure of natural hormones and unlike synthetic hormones have not been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
See a trained professional when deciding on BHRT. Most conventional physicians test hormone levels via blood which does not provide an accurate picture of hormone level changes. This method only provides a “snapshot in time” of the hormone levels that are circulating in the bloodstream as hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day. Hormones generally concentrate in the salivary glands, so other methods such as saliva tests are thought to provide more accurate the levels stored in the tissue. Saliva testing is also a convenient way collect throughout a 24 hour period.
The female body makes different hormones that can be replaced with BHRT and they all need to be in balance in order to obtain maximum health and feel great. There are 3 different types of Estrogen in addition to progesterone, dehydro-epi-androsterone also known as DHEA and testosterone. Estrogen helps improve memory, prevention of bone loss and glucose control to name a few. Progesterone is the body’s natural anti-anxiety hormone and helps with the management of stress and contributes to better sleep. DHEA is an important hormone for the formation of testosterone in women, and also helps with libido. Testosterone is needed for memory and aides in the strength of your bones, skin and hair. If these hormones are not in balance then you may not feel your best.
Some women are very fortunate not to have significant symptoms associated with their hormonal changes. But if you are not one of these lucky women, discuss your symptoms and options with a trained healthcare provider. You may be pleasantly surprised about the symptom relief and benefits you can obtain from BHRT. Don’t feel as though there are no solutions for the way you feel and that this is what nature intended. We all want to stay healthy and vigorous for as long as we can.
There are a countless number of over-the counter supplements which are marketed to help with the symptoms associated with hormone changes. Although herbs and vitamins can help relieve some symptoms and are generally safe, it is important to discuss these with your doctor to make sure there are no negative interactions with any other supplements or medications you may be taking.
The reasons to start BHRT may be different for everyone, but don’t forget to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes that will complement your life. Overall health entails improvement of not only physical but also nutritional, mental and spiritual health.
In summary, BHRT offers women an option in the treatment of menopause. Obtaining balance in your hormones is important. Imagine your body as a symphony orchestra. No one instrument in the symphony can be out of tune and neither should your hormones be in order to feel optimal. Seek out a bio-identical hormone specialist today and feel your best.