Heralded by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers, bioidentical hormones are quickly becoming the go-to therapy for relief from symptoms of menopause. But what are bioidentical hormones and which hormones do they replace? Read on to find out more about bioidentical hormones and their effect on menopause.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Since the 1930's, bioidentical hormones have been to treat a range of medical symptoms. Manufactured in a laboratory, bioidentical hormones are similar in molecular structure to hormones made within your own body. Compounds within these hormones can be made to match a woman's individual hormones, and taken via creams, pills, and patches, among other forms.
What Hormones Does Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Replace?
Hormones which bioidentical hormone therapies (bHRT) replace include:
Natural estrogens. Most prescription estrogen, when taken orally, is converted in the gastrointestinal tract and ends up predominantly as estrone. Three estrogens to consider include: estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Many studies link estrone to breast cancer. Estradiol is the primary estrogen produced in the ovaries and comes in the forms of vaginal rings, creams, and transdermal patches. Estriol is the estrogen hormone prevalent during pregnancy and very large amounts are produced which also helps protect against breast cancer.
Natural progesterone. Made by the ovaries prior to menopause and made by the adrenal glands and fat cells after menopause, natural progesterone is the precursor for natural estrogen. It is considered the most important hormone in the female body. Its benefits include: acting as a natural diuretic, normalizing blood clotting, facilitating thyroid hormones, and regulating the ovaries functions.
Natural androgens. Produced by the ovaries, androgens are essential to female reproductive development and are a major factor in maintaining libido, in addition to promoting healthy skin and strong bones.
What Are the Benefits of bHRT?
The benefits of bHRT are many, and depending on which combination of bioidentical hormones you are prescribed, could include:
- Eliminating or reducing hot flashes
- Decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reducing night sweats and insomnia
- Accelerating fat burn
- Increasing energy and reducing depression
- Improving memory and concentration
- Encouraging bone growth and protecting bones from osteoporosis
- Enhancing sex drive and libido
However, bioidentical hormone therapy can come with certain side effects and increased risk of developing serious disorders. Thus, this therapy may not be for everyone. Click here to read more information about bioidentical hormones and menopause.