For many menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) offers them deliverance from menopause hell. However, the world of HRT can seem confusing at first. Learning the lingo will help you to make an informed decision about how to manage and treat your menopause symptoms; keep reading to learn some HRT basics.
The Great Debate: Bioidentical vs. Synthetic HRT
Choosing between different forms of HRT has become a contentious issue in the media. Here we outline the two main strands of HRT - synthetic and bioidentical - to help you arrive at an informed decision.
Are exact replicas of the hormones produced in the body, created synthetically in a laboratory. These substances are used to replace dwindling hormones to avoid the symptoms of low hormonal levels during perimenopause, such as hot flashes, irritability, dry skin and hair loss. However, this treatment method is controversial, due to the artificial nature of these hormones and the risks associated with it, such as certain cancers, heart disease, and blot clots leading to strokes.
Are also replicas of hormones produced in the body; however, these are presented as being more “natural” because they are derived from plants - mainly soy and wild yams. In recent years, they have been portrayed as a safer alternative to synthetic hormones. However, these hormones are extracted in a laboratory and manipulated to work uniquely within each woman's body. Bioidentical hormones cannot be considered entirely “natural,” because they are mixed with other, unapproved products to take the form of a pill, cream or other HRT product.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not acknowledge the term bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) because it is a loose term, and as of yet no drug companies manufacturing bioidentical hormones have met the FDA's standards for approval. While the FDA does approve of some low-dose bioidentical hormones for limited use, this United States government organization also maintains that it would be irresponsible for it to endorse unapproved, high-dosage forms of BHRT because no product has undergone or successfully completed its rigorous and long-term trialing process.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy a Good Idea?
HRT is very appealing for women who just want a quick-fix solution for getting rid of menopause symptoms. However, both bioidentical and synthetic HRT have their downsides. Traditional, synthetic HRT products may be FDA approved, but with prolonged exposure to estrogen, a woman is at a higher risk of developing certain types of reproductive cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Bioidentical hormones may seem like a “safer”, more natural option, but the safety of the production methods cannot be guaranteed.
Another issue with the use of HRT is that some researchers believe that women stop producing estrogen at a certain age for a reason. Trying to stop or reverse the natural process of menopause can be dangerous for your health. While HRT has improved the quality of life for many women, but is important to remember that there are risks to consider. There are many other treatment options available to soothe and treat menopause symptoms, without increasing the risk of developing more serious conditions. Click on the following link to learn more about alternatives to hormone replacement therapy.
It's important to do research and to talk to your doctor about the risks associated with HRT before commencing treatment, as well as discussing other possible treatment methods.