How and why do women use Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy in menopause and beyond? Discover the benefits of BHRT.
Bioidentical hormones are custom made hormones that are tailored to meet your needs. These are hormones derived from plant sources such as yam that are an exact copy of the hormones made by your body. They are used to treat both men and women who have a deficiency or an hormonal imbalance.
Hormones are made by glands in the body. They control or impact almost every function of your body including sexual function and brain function. Hormones also work as messengers carrying signals throughout the body. They coordinate everything from digestion to growth. When the chosen hormone replacement therapy used constitutes a combination of estriol, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), this treatment is called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement (BHRT)?
When there is a drop in hormone levels, or if they become unbalanced, people often choose to turn to Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT). This treatment is designed for men or women to treat their perimenopause, menopause or andropause symptoms or deficiencies. It has the advantage of being specifically tailored to each patient’s needs based on objective blood or saliva lab tests, as well as a subjective history of the patient’s signs and symptoms.
In addition to this, Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) may also used to improve conditions such as:
- Insulin resistance
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
The validity of these treatments are often debated alluding to whether they are hype or help.
Where Do Bioidentical Hormones Come From?
Bioidentical hormones are special hormones that are derived from plants and are an exact copy of the hormones derived by the human body. The most common beginning sources are yam or soy. The final products are USP/NF pharmaceutical grade, have a certificate of analysis and are manufactured in FDA registered facilities. They are identical to the hormones produced by the human body and include estriol, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) .
These replicated hormones are then used in treatment. Compounded Bioidentical hormones come in various forms such as:
There are certain myths and misconceptions that are often associated with Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) such as safety and efficacy. There are many issues that need an answer before you decide to undergo treatment. One in particular is the importance of an established process validation program at the pharmacy you choose to obtain your compounded medication. This can verified by the presence of end-product potency testing that validates the stated percentages of medication in the product. This is necessary to better understand, utilize and achieve the desired results of bioidentical hormone replacement.
Why is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Used by Men and Women?
Bioidentical hormones restore hormonal balance, so it is essential to know its’ basics and right usage. Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) can be a complicated process. For this reason, it is important that you do your due diligence and know more about it.
As women age, the amount or level of certain hormones in the body goes down. These include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. This can lead to the presence of certain symptoms in the body. Women who are in peri-menopause or already in menopause might develop certain conditions in their body. These conditions can interfere with their day-to-day lives and affect their quality of life. Many of the common effects that are associated with this condition are:
- Night Sweats
- Hot flashes
- Loss of interest in sex/libido
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Problems falling sleep or staying asleep
- Fatigue/Low energy
- Bloating/Weight gain
- Loss of muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Mental fog/Senior moments/Difficulty concentrating/Memory loss
- Mood swings/Irritability
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Headaches, joint pain and fybromyalgia symptoms
These are some of the symptoms or conditions that men or women may experience when they are going through the menopause/andropause phase. The purpose of the treatment is to replace missing or deficient hormones to bring them back into balance and improve the quality of life. In this day and age when more and more people are leaning towards organic/unprocessed foods and natural treatments, the presence of some or many of any of these symptoms increase the propensity that men and women would opt for this particular type of treatment; a treatment that helps people deal with the issues that they face with what is essentially a disease of age. This is the reason that Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) is the treatment of choice for so many men and women.
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
There are many benefits that can be found with this treatment. These benefits are meant to improve the quality of life among men and women. The treatment, in addition to improving the symptoms of menopause/andropause, can also have the following potential benefits:
- Reduced/eliminated hot flashes and night sweats
- Increased sex drive
- Return of interest in hobbies
- Improved ability to reach orgasm
- Improved vaginal lining and lubrication
- Reduced depression-like symptoms
- Less painful intercourse
- Improved sleep profile
- Improved energy profile
- Reduced bloating/Weight gain
- Improved muscle mass/lean body mass
- Improvement in erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Improved thinking and memory
- Improved mood
- Decreased hair loss/thinning
- Less dry skin
- Reduced headaches, joint pain and fybromyalgia symptoms
Who Needs Bioidentical Hormones?
There are some concerns surrounding safety. This treatment is often considered by many to be the safest option because it is natural. But more research is needed to validate this. However, there are times when this treatment is contraindicated, such as a personal history of breast cancer or prostate cancer. Not all men and women respond well to the treatment. In such cases, a different route of administration should be considered. For example, if a topical cream is not working well despite adjusting the dose, often a sublingual troche works better. Changes in lifestyle are almost always beneficial and can be done in tangent with Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). This includes:
- Eating a balanced diet (Mediterranean Diet, decrease processed foods, certified organic, non-GMO)
- Taking supplements/vitamins including: Al’s Formula (Male multivitamin), Meta-Fem (Female multivitamin), green tea extract, rhodiola, Meriva (Curcumin), Super EPA Pro (Fish oil), Cortrex (Adrenal support) and alpha-lipoic acid, etc.
- Reduction of anxiety and stress via daily massage, meditation, spiritual reflection, hot tub, yoga, etc.
- Daily aerobic exercise (30 minutes minimum)
These lifestyle changes in conjunction with Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) can help people co-witness their sights on achieving their quality of life goals while alleviating concerns.
In order to treat menopause/andropause symptoms, traditional hormone therapy is also widely used. However, more research needs to be done comparing traditional versus Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. As it stands for now, it is not safer or more effective than the Bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT).
What are the Risks Involved in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Like any other treatment and medication, there are certain risks that are involved in Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). There can be side effects. Some that have been reported are:
- Increase in the risk of blood clots/Stroke (Oral capsules)
- Mood swings (Estrogen dominance)
- Breast cancer
What Did We Learn?
It is still debatable whether or not this treatment is safer or mere effective than traditional hormone replacement. More research is warranted. However, if a man or woman responds well to Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), then there is a high chance that the imbalance can be treated ongoing continuously. Men and women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause/andropause are advised to consider all alternatives. They are also advised to make lifestyle modifications.
One last consideration worth illuminating is the skin. The skin is an essential part of the body. As the largest organ, it is essential for preventing infections. Men and women often develop skin problems with age that can become quite difficult to deal with. Often hyperpigmentation can arise from scars or hormone imbalances, as well as so-called sunspots and even melasma. These conditions characterized by dark spots on the skin can be treated with compounded prescription bleaching creams. The most common bleaching creams contain high concentrations of hydroquinone (6-14%) in combination with kojic acid (6%). These combinations do not exist in commercially made prescriptions and must be made in a compounding pharmacy. As with all compounded medications, it is essential to verify that the pharmacy has an established process validation program with end-product potency testing that validates the stated percentages in the product, especially of hydroquinone. For these and other dermatology issues, you can inquire/ask for a referral and visit us here.