Hormones are critical for nearly every basic function of your body. They are the messengers that tell your cells what to do. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is one way you can continue to support and balance your hormones as you go through life.
Your body will undergo numerous changes as you age. Often, these changes are unpredictable and unwanted. This is especially true for women whose hormone levels drop during menopause. These types of hormonal changes can negatively impact your quality of life. Natural hormone replacement with bioidentical hormones is a great way to restore what has been lost and return to the quality of life you want.
Treating hormone imbalances holistically involves many factors. The first step involves understanding the cause of your imbalance. Some causes may be health conditions or treatment-related while others may be a body’s natural reaction to aging, stress, or other underlying factors.
Once you understand the root cause of your hormone imbalance you can address it with a natural hormone replacement strategy.
What is Holistic Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Holistic hormone replacement therapy utilizes bioidentical hormones to mimic those produced by the human body. Bioidentical hormones are artificial hormones that are processed from plant estrogens that are chemically identical to what the human body produces. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is used to treat men and women when their hormone levels drop or become unbalanced. It is most often used for symptoms of perimenopause and menopause in women.
You see, hormones are chemicals made by your endocrine glands. They tell other parts of your body how and when to function. Even the slightest imbalance can cause symptoms that disrupt your daily life. Holistic hormone replacement therapy is used as a treatment for these symptoms. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the most commonly used bioidentical hormones.
Synthetic Hormone Replacement vs. Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormones such as estradiol, estriol, and progesterone have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your body. Meanwhile, synthetic hormones used in hormone replacement therapy do not have the same molecular structure as the hormones in your body. Instead, your body has to work to break them down into a usable form.
This may come as a surprise to you but both bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones are made in a laboratory. Although bioidentical hormones are considered more “natural” because they are derived from plants rather than man-made chemical compounds. Bioidentical hormones can be produced by a pharmaceutical company or a compounding pharmacy.
While more research is needed, initial studies found that patients report greater satisfaction with HRTs that contain progesterone compared with those that contain synthetic progestin.
Bioidentical hormones have some distinctly different, potentially opposite, physiological effects compared with their synthetic counterparts, which have different chemical structures.
Ultimately, the research found that through physiological data and clinical outcomes bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more effective than their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts.
Who Should Not Use Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
You may be wondering if you are a good candidate for BHRT. Using bioidentical hormones is a decision you should make with your functional medicine provider by weighing the risks and benefits. If you have had or are at high risk for the following conditions, hormone replacement therapy may not be the best solution for you:
- Blood clotting disorders
- Heart or cardiovascular disease
- Breast cancer
How Do I Know if I Need Hormone Replacement?
The best time to begin natural hormone replacement therapy is when you start to notice symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. For most women, this occurs when they suffer symptoms of menopause that alter their quality of life. Often, menopausal symptoms will go unnoticed for a time. Women blame things like loss of energy or weight gain on natural aging. However, when your symptoms become unbearable for normal everyday life, that’s when you should consider natural hormone replacement.
What Symptoms Does Natural Hormone Replacement Treat?
Hormone replacement therapy treats symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Those symptoms vary for each individual. However, menopause is one of the most common conditions that BHRT is used to treat. Symptoms of menopause include the following:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
- Problems sleeping
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Memory loss
Once hormone replacement therapy begins most people see their symptoms reversed. The goal of BHRT is to replace hormones that are lost, thus bringing your hormones into balance.
How Are Bioidentical Hormones Given?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy comes in many different forms:
Those include pills, patches, creams, gels, shots, or implanted pellets. You can try different forms to find the one that works best for you.
How Long Does it Take for Natural Hormone Replacement to Work?
The amount of time it takes for natural hormone replacement therapy to work varies for each individual. For some they experience relief within a few weeks, for others, it can take several months. Often, it takes a few months to feel the full effect of any type of hormone replacement therapy.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy?
There are numerous benefits of BHRT. In addition to helping with symptoms of menopause, hormone replacement therapy may also reduce your risk for diabetes, tooth loss, and cataracts. There’s some evidence that it can help improve skin thickness, hydration, and elasticity, too.
Additionally, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a more suitable treatment for many individuals because it can be custom-fit to each patient’s diagnostic results. This makes bioidentical hormones safer and more effective, as each patient receives the exact amount they need.
Here are just a few of the benefits of BHRT:
- Improved energy levels
- Better levels of mood, concentration, and memory
- Reduced risk of depression
- Improved libido
- Reduced vaginal dryness and the incidence of hot flashes
- Improved bone density
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Healthier cholesterol levels
What Are the Risks of Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Research shows that there are some adverse effects to taking hormones. For example, there are certain conditions that hormone replacement therapy increases your risk for like gallbladder disease, stroke, blood clots, heart disease, and breast cancer. However, research on those conditions and hormone replacement does not include BHRT. Many medical professionals will claim that BHRT is safer, although more research needs to be done on that count as well.
Side effects that do accompany BHRT may include:
- Weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Increased facial hair
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
As your hormones begin to regulate, these symptoms will eventually disappear.
How Can I Increase my Hormones Naturally?
If you are interested in hormone replacement therapy, you may also be interested in other ways to increase your hormones naturally. There are a few reasons besides aging that cause hormonal deficiencies, and often BHRT is not the only way to address those imbalances.
Potential causes of hormonal imbalances include:
- Health conditions – Cushing’s syndrome or Addison’s disease
- Poor diet or nutrition
- Thyroid disorders
- Hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia
- Exposure to toxins or pollutants
Working with an integrative practitioner will help you get to the root cause of your hormonal imbalances.
With that in mind, there are a few strategies to address hormone imbalances naturally.
Those include balancing your diet with a nutritional treatment plan and health supplements. Addressing poor digestive health in the gut and liver. Preventing allergies and infections that can cause chronic inflammation which impacts your body’s ability to self-regulate. Healing infections and addressing allergies either by eliminating exposure or increasing immunity helps your body better control your hormone balances.
Additionally, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your hormone levels, making stress management equally important.
Last but not least, addressing your sleeping patterns can have a huge impact on your hormones. Hormone levels rise and fall throughout the day. You can improve your sleep by having a predictable sleep schedule, eliminating light when you sleep, avoiding technology leading up to bedtime, having a nighttime routine, and getting an adequate amount of sleep each night.
Bioidentical hormones used in natural hormone replacement therapy help people manage symptoms of hormonal imbalance due to aging and other factors. In combination with other methods to balance your hormones naturally, you can return to a high quality of life. Optimal health isn’t out of your reach. Consider working with our team of integrative practitioners to learn if you are a good fit for hormone replacement therapy.