There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the use of bioidentical hormones in women. Research shows that it is a safer alternative to synthetic hormones and has fewer risks associated with it. However, when you look it up on the internet or consult different medical practitioners, you will get contrasting opinions.
Women with menopause or menopausal symptoms undergo hormone therapy to prevent certain health conditions and improve their quality of life.
As with any treatment, hormone replacement therapy also has its ups and downs. Thus, consulting a specialist and understanding your health situation can help you make a better choice.
In this article, we will discuss the positive and negative aspects of using bioidentical hormones in hormone replacement therapy. But let’s understand the meaning of the term before beginning.
What is a Bioidentical Hormone?
Bioidentical hormones have a similar chemical structure to the hormones produced by the human body. Their source is either plants or animals, and they undergo several stages of processing in the laboratory to make them identical to human hormones.
Bioidentical hormones come in a variety of forms, depending on their source. Natural bioidentical hormones are derived from soybeans and yams and undergo rigorous processing before they get approval from the FDA. These are available in the form of injections, pills, gels, and creams.
Another form is compound bioidentical hormones, which is a combination of hormones that medical practitioners prescribe depending on the patient’s requirements.
The pharmacist prepares the mixture according to the prescriptions, and patients can take them in the form of implants, suppositories, injections, oral, and other forms.
Are Bioidentical Hormones a Safer Alternative?
Bioidentical hormones have a higher safety factor compared to synthetic hormones. Most doctors who specialize in hormone therapy prescribe bioidentical hormones and consider them a better option.
However, just because they are derived from natural sources does not mean they do not have any risks.
Bioidentical hormone therapy comes with risks like breast cancer and cardiac arrest, but the chances of them are quite low.
According to studies, patients undergoing bioidentical hormone therapy did not show any significant increase in their chances of breast cancer. It also does not increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
Women with a family or medical history of certain health conditions are at a higher risk of breast cancer and heart attacks. Thus, a proper health examination before the treatment can help avoid such risks by consulting a certified specialist.
The Benefits of Taking Bioidentical Hormones
Bioidentical hormones are a safer option as compared to other alternatives and provide more benefits to most women. The advantages of taking bioidentical hormones depend on the age and health condition of the patient.
Here are some of the benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy.
- Enhance sleep quality
- Higher energy levels
- Increased sex drive
- Sexual intercourse is less painful.
- Improve bone health
- Low risk of colon cancer
- Reduced urinary problems
- Increased level of good cholesterol
- Low risk of depression and anxiety
- Reduced risk of bone diseases
Risks Associated with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
People with specific medical conditions and age-related factors may have an increased risk. Some of the health risks of undergoing bioidentical hormone therapy include the following.
- Increased chances of endometrial cancer
- Risk of cardiovascular disease with persistent use of hormones
- Possibility of stroke in vulnerable patients
Rumors Regarding Weight Gain
At the beginning of hormone therapy, women gain weight due to the varying hormone levels in their bodies and consider the therapy as the reason for the change.
However, those who undergo bioidentical hormone therapy have a lower chance of gaining weight as compared to those without the treatment.
Weight gain is a common issue during the menopausal phase, and as women age, their metabolism slows down, which results in a slow rate of calorie burning.
Regular physical activities and hormone therapy can help burn fat and maintain muscle mass. Focusing on muscle-building activities can improve your overall well-being as you age.
Who Should Avoid Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Women with underlying medical conditions should avoid undergoing hormone treatment. It will increase the chances of risks and complications in the patient. A specialist can provide such patients with alternatives that can help them lead better lives.
Some of the health conditions that increase the risk of hormone treatment include the following.
- A history of breast cancer
- Family or personal history of blood clots
- Coronary heart disease
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- History of Porphyria cutanea tarda (photosensitivity)
- Have a smoking habit
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Family or personal history of liver disease
- Prior endometrial cancer
- History of hypertriglyceridemia
- Gall bladder disease
- A history of stroke
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
When to Consider Taking Bioidentical Hormones?
Women who are in the perimenopausal phase or are having symptoms of menopause can undergo hormone replacement therapy to relieve the symptoms.
Perimenopause can begin around 5 to 10 years before the onset of menopause. So, younger patients have a reduced chance of having complications with the hormone treatment.
Besides, those who have had a hysterectomy and have removed their ovaries can also consider the treatment to maintain a balance of estrogen and progesterone in their bodies. The symptoms of a decrease in the level of hormones in the body include the following.
- Constantly dealing with night sweats
- Feeling lethargic most of the time and having low energy levels
- Frequent mood swings
- Hot flashes at uncertain times
- Inability to concentrate and mental incoherence
- Physical intimacy is less appealing, and sex drive is low.
- Weak bones due to reduced bone density
- Unexpected weight gain
- Skin and vaginal dryness
- Frequent urinary infections
- High levels of bad cholesterol
- Shedding of a lot of hair or severe hair loss
- Feeling low and having signs of depression
Bioidentical hormone therapy has several advantages over conventional synthetic alternatives. Most certified medical practitioners recommend bioidentical hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.