During the past few years, there has been a rise in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Some people claim that its results are better than the FDA-approved hormones. It is being labeled as the “veritable fountain of youth.” The question is, is it really that effective? What are the benefits and dangers of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Researchers were confident that conventional Hormone Therapy (HT) would be the perfect remedy for multiple midlife women’s conditions. However, their theories were incorrect, as it doesn’t help with cardiovascular diseases.
As a result, doctors have changed their course of action, and now, they suggest bioidentical hormones rather than the conventional ones. This article will have a look at what is BHRT, and what are its main benefits and dangers.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
BHRT is a medical treatment method, which is used to treat people with dropping or uneven hormone levels. It is generally used for help in the following conditions:
- Perimenopause and menopause
- Thyroid issues
- Adrenal disorders
There are three types of hormones found in plants, which are widely used in human treatments; these include progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. This is because they are similar to those found in human bodies. These hormones are extracted, modified, and then used in following manners to treat various disorders:
- Tablets and capsules
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Following are the main benefits of BHRT
- BHRT is helpful for patients suffering from bone diseases such as Osteoporosis. It improves their condition by increasing bone density by introducing estrogen and testosterone in the body. Since estrogen and progesterone levels are reduced in menopausal women, by replacing them, the risk of osteoporosis is significantly reduced.
- It gained its popularity due to its countless benefits for menopause. Some of them include a reduction in hot flashes and vaginal dryness, which are the main symptoms of this condition. There are multiple scientific studies talking about the use of estrogen and progesterone in the fight against hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
- It has a positive impact on memory and concentration. Since hormonal balance is needed for each and everybody and brain function, it is normal for our cognitive functions to decline in quality as a result of the normal aging process, but also, due to the hormonal changes that happen during menopause. Luckily, the use of BHRT is able to help with any cognitive issues and especially the well-known “Brain Fog” that these women are facing.
- Its consumption enhances muscle strength and mass. Because BHRT introduces testosterone in our bodies, it is able to enhance the process of muscle strength and mass gain. Due to testosterone decline, it is normal for the muscles to lose mass and strength, so it is a good thing that BHRT has out back.
- Its users are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Since the estrogen decline is known to cause functional changes in the brain to happen over time, it is normal to assume that this increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So while your body is getting the estrogen that it needs, you do not have a reason to be worried about Alzheimer’s disease.
- Bioidentical hormones and weight loss are closely related. This is because it increases metabolism, which in turn decreases extra fat. This is especially beneficial for menopausal women who tend to increase their weight as a side-effect of the hormonal changes that they are going through. Since obesity is increasing the risk of so many health risks, it is of vital importance to prevent it by any cost.
- It is beneficial for patients suffering from heart diseases because it improves cholesterol levels. It has been scientifically proven that restoring the hormonal balance in the body once again in postmenopausal women helps protect them from heart diseases and heart attack by maintaining their “Good” cholesterol levels high and their “Bad” cholesterol levels low.
- It enhances sleep and helps in relieving depression. We mentioned that the use of BHRT helps reduce night sweats and hot flashes, thus helping with any sleep issues that menopausal women might face. In addition, restoring the hormonal balance also helps them protect against any common mood swings, anxiety, and depression that they often face at times like these.
- Its users noticed a lift in their mood. A positive life in their mood has been experienced with the use of BHRT due to its impact on the other menopause symptoms.
- It increases energy levels and improves libido. If your low levels of estrogen and testosterone have been causing your low energy levels and low libido, by simply using the BHRT, you will be experiencing an improvement in no time.
Owing to its multiple benefits, FDA approved bioidentical hormones, which are prepared in the form of capsules. These are termed as, estradiol and progesterone, and are beneficial for patients suffering from varying levels of the vasomotor symptoms of menopause.
Dangers Of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
FDA doesn’t approve a drug unless its manufacturers clearly give an account of all the dangers and side-effects associated with it. Furthermore, it bounds the pharmaceutical company to mention those dangers in the paperwork provided with the drug’s packaging. On the other hand, those pharmacies which compound hormones are not obliged to report side-effects to FDA or mention them on the packaging.
Side-effects might surface after the first dosage because the body takes some time to adjust with the new levels of hormones. These dangers and side-effects include:
As your body is adjusting to the new hormonal changes, you might experience more common acne breakouts than before.
2. Increase In Weight
This is one of the more unfortunate side-effects of the use of BHRT. To avoid weight gain, make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet and are physically active on a daily level.
Experiencing cramps is not uncommon for the first few weeks with BHRT. It all means that your body is adjusting to the new changes. If you are worried about your cramps, you can always consult your doctor on the topic, especially if they become more severe.
You might experience light bleeding at the beginning of your use with BHRT. If the bleeding becomes more severe, please consult your doctor.
5. Blurred Vision
Excess estrogen and progesterone are known to cause blurred vision. If you experience blurred vision, you should consult your doctor about adjusting your dosage better.
6. Increase In The Growth Of Facial Hair In Women
Because testosterone will be introduced to your body, you might experience increased growth of facial and body hair. A better adjustment in your dosage should put a stop to these symptoms.
Because of the extra progesterone and estrogen, you might experience bloating, especially at the beginning of your use of BHRT. Use some probiotics to maintain a healthy microbiome and stay hydrated to relieve the bloating.
8. Mood Swings
While you are trying to help your mood swings with the use of BHRT, you might experience even more intense mood swings at the beginning. Starting off with a lighter dosage might help the case.
9. Breast Tenderness
Breast tenderness is another common side-effect of the extra body retention due to the newly introduced progesterone and estrogen in your body.
10. Digestion Issues
Mild to more severe headaches is a rare, but possible, side-effect of the use of BHRT.
Fatigue is a potential side-effect of BHRT despite the fact that it might be used to treat it in the first place.
Some of the users suffered skin issues, such as itching and red spots, on or around the body parts, where the hormones were applied in the form of creams or gels. Same is the case with patients that injected it in their bodies.
The main reason behind the side-effects is high levels of hormones. Usually, they disappear after a few days. However, if they stay for a longer period, then the patient should consult his/her doctor for check-up and advice.
These are some of the significant benefits and dangers of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Even though it is quite beneficial, people suffering from hormonal disorders shouldn’t use it without a doctor’s advice. This is because different bodies react to this treatment in a different manner, and negligence in this regard might amplify the symptoms. Furthermore, if a person decides to use them, then he/she should take the smallest dose that functions within the body for the shortest time possible.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.