Menopause signals the end of a woman's reproductive years. As menopause approaches, the ovaries reduce production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, eventually resulting in the end of menstruation. Changing hormone levels can lead to a variety of menopause-related symptoms.
The following information will help women understand the relationship between bioidentical hormones and menopause, the risks of using of bioidentical hormones and alternative treatments.
Hormones and Menopause
Many women have begun eschewing the traditional pharmaceutical hormone therapy for the allegedly safer and more natural bioidentical equivalent. Bioidentical hormones are synthetically manufactured through a process similar to hormone therapy and the birth control pill. However, there is no conclusive proof that bioidentical hormones are inherently safer or more effective than their pharmaceutical counterparts.
Bioidentical Hormones Prescriptions during Menopause
Because of the lack of regulations constraining pharmacists who develop bioidenticals, there is limited formal quality control or quality assurance on individual formulations. The estrogen estradiol, which is present in many oral and all non-oral bioidentical hormone therapies, is the same estrogen that occurs naturally in the human body. It is also the same estrogen preparation used in government-approved hormone therapies that come in patches, implants, and gels. Thus, bioidentical creams do not necessarily have any advantage over pharmaceutical estrogen therapies.
Pharmacy-produced hormone therapies often contain a mix of estradiol, estrone, and estriol, but no conclusive evidence exists to suggest that this combination is any more effective than estradiol by itself.
Risks of Bioidentical Substitutes in Menopause
There is no proof that the hormone preparations made by compounding pharmacists are either safe or effective. It is also worth noting that there is no data to indicate the appropriate dosage of progesterone that's necessary for protecting the lining of the uterus. Moreover, there is no evidence that progesterone absorbed through bioidentical hormones will protect the lining of the uterus from conditions such as uterine cancer.
Safety and efficacy
Like many treatments, bioidentical hormones are not without side effects; however, insufficient research exists to indicate precisely what the risks and benefits are.
There are theoretical advantages to the use of bioidentical hormones in combating menopausal symptoms, but further research is needed to state these advantages conclusively. Prescribing bioidentical hormones is not recommended until long-term data regarding safety and efficacy is available.
For a full explanation of the risks and side effects of plant-derived hormones, Continue to the next section for information regarding bioidentical hormones side effects.
Alternatives to Bioidentical Hormones during Menopause
Prior to committing to hormone therapy, women suffering from hormonal imbalance should explore other treatment options. Simple lifestyle changes - namely, stress management techniques, a balanced diet, and regular exercise - can make a world of difference in symptom frequency and severity.
If non-medical treatments fail to provide sufficient relief, women may wish to turn to alternative medicine. Herbal supplements, biofeedback, and acupuncture have all proven effective in mitigating the physical and psychological manifestations of menopause.
In order to keep learning about other options for menopause relief, click on the following link about alternatives to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.