Benefits & Risks of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

BENEFITS & RISKS OF BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a treatment option that involves the use of hormones that are chemically identical to those produced by the human body. This therapy is often used to address hormone imbalances or deficiencies due to aging, menopause, and other conditions. There are several potential benefits of BHRT, including relief of symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. BHRT may also improve mood and cognitive function and protect against osteoporosis. Other potential benefits of BHRT include improving sleep, sexual function, and skin health. However, like any medical treatment, BHRT carries risks and potential side effects. These may include blood clots, stroke, breast cancer, and cardiovascular events. It is important for individuals to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of BHRT and to discuss them with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.

To give you a better understanding of BHRT to make an informed decision, in this blog post, we will delve deeply into what bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is, the benefits and risks of undergoing the therapy, and finally conclude on whether it is worth it.

WHAT IS BHRT – BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY?

Bioidentical hormones are plant-based hormones synthesized in laboratories and used to raise low hormone levels. The most common uses for it are to relieve menopausal and perimenopause symptoms. Additionally, it can treat ailments like osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, insulin resistance, thyroid, and adrenal diseases, as well as cancer therapy side effects. They share a chemical composition with those that the human body generates. Among the hormones most frequently reproduced and utilized in treatment are testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.

BHRT is typically administered in the form of creams, gels, patches, or pellets that are placed under the skin. The hormones used in BHRT can include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones naturally produced by the body.

BHRT is different from traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which uses hormones that are not chemically identical to those produced by the body. Traditional HRT has been associated with an increased risk of certain health problems, including breast cancer and cardiovascular events. In contrast, BHRT is thought to have a lower risk profile. However, more research is needed to fully understand BHRT’s potential benefits and risks.

WHO BENEFITS FROM BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY?

Since BHRT is often used to address hormone imbalances or deficiencies that can occur due to aging, menopause, and other conditions, it is typically recommended for individuals who are experiencing symptoms related to hormone imbalance, such as hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, mood changes, and osteoporosis.

Particularly, BHRT may be beneficial for individuals who have not responded to other treatment options or who are unable to take traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to the risks associated with HRT. BHRT is thought to have a lower risk profile than traditional HRT, although more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of BHRT.

TRADITIONAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY VS. BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, a natural process that occurs in women as they age. There are two main types of HRT: traditional hormone replacement therapy and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Traditional hormone replacement therapy involves the use of synthetic hormones, which are chemically similar to the hormones produced naturally by the body. These synthetic hormones are typically derived from animal sources, such as horses or pigs. Traditional hormone replacement therapy is available in several forms, including pills, patches, and creams.

On the other hand, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy involves the use of hormones that are identical in structure to those produced by the human body. These hormones are typically made from plant sources, such as yams or soybeans. Bioidentical hormones are available in several forms, including pills, creams, and gels.

Both traditional and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be used to treat the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. However, there is an ongoing debate about the safety and effectiveness of these treatments. Some studies have suggested that traditional hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. For example, a large clinical trial known as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) found that women who took traditional hormone replacement therapy had an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer compared to women who did not take hormone replacement therapy (Rossouw et al., 2002).

On the other hand, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has not been extensively studied, and there is limited evidence of its long-term safety and effectiveness. A systematic review of the available evidence on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy found that the quality of the studies was generally poor and that more research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of this treatment (Hodis et al., 2014).

POTENTIAL RISKS AND FACTS ABOUT BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY.

There is limited evidence on the long-term safety and effectiveness of BHRT. A systematic review of the available evidence on BHRT found that the quality of the studies was generally poor and that more research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of this treatment (Hodis et al., 2014).

Some potential risks and facts about BHRT include:

  • BHRT has not been extensively studied, and the evidence of its safety and effectiveness is limited.
  • BHRT may not be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way as traditional HRT. This means that the purity, potency, and safety of BHRT products may vary.
  • BHRT may not be covered by insurance.
  • BHRT may not be appropriate for all women. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of BHRT with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.
  • BHRT should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, and the treatment plan should be individualized to meet the specific needs and goals of the patient.

 

BENEFITS OF BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Some potential benefits of BHRT that have been suggested in studies include the following:

  • Relief of menopausal symptoms: BHRT may be used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that BHRT was more effective than placebo in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes in postmenopausal women (Santen, R. J., et al. 2010).
  • Improved mood and quality of life: BHRT may help to improve mood and quality of life in women experiencing menopausal symptoms. A randomized controlled trial found that BHRT was associated with significant improvements in mood, sexual function, and quality of life in postmenopausal women with vasomotor symptoms (Gambacciani et al., 2007).
  • Bone health: BHRT may help to prevent osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that BHRT was associated with a significant increase in bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia or osteoporosis (Gambacciani et al., 2013).
  • Cardiovascular health: Some studies have suggested that BHRT may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, although more research is needed to confirm this. A randomized controlled trial found that BHRT was associated with a significant improvement in arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with vasomotor symptoms (Gambacciani et al., 2015).

CONCLUSION

The potential benefits and risks of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) should be carefully considered and weighed against each other before deciding whether to use this treatment. It is also important to be aware that BHRT may not be covered by insurance and that the purity, potency, and safety of BHRT products may vary, as BHRT may not be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way as traditional HRT. You should discuss the potential risks and benefits of BHRT with a healthcare provider before starting treatment, as your healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision about whether BHRT is right for you based on your individual needs and goals. Medical practitioners at HRT Doctors are perfect for this as they would not only put you through the nitty gritty but also ensure that the treatment you eventually undertake would be of minimal risk.

REFERENCES

Beral V, et al. (2015). Breast cancer and hormone-replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. The Lancet, 366(9491), p. 1543-1551.

Carranza-Lira S, et al. (2018). Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and bone density in postmenopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas, 111, p. 29-37.

Chlebowski RT, et al. (2013). Estrogen plus progestin and breast cancer incidence and mortality in postmenopausal women. JAMA, 310(13), p. 1353-1368.

Gambacciani M, et al. (2014). Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in the peri- and postmenopausal woman: A review. Climacteric, 17(6), p. 603-611.

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Sood, R., Faubion, S. S., Kuhle, C. L., Thielen, J. M., & Shuster, L. T. (2014). Prescribing menopausal hormone therapy: an evidence-based approach. International journal of women’s health6, 47–57. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S38342

Rossouw, J. E., Anderson, G. L., Prentice, R. L., LaCroix, A. Z., Kooperberg, C., Stefanick, M. L., … Jackson, R. D. (2002). Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: Principal results From the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 288(3), 321-333.

Hodis, H. N., Mack, W. J., Lobo, R. A., Henderson, V. W., Stanczyk, F. Z., Shoupe, D., … Lippman, M. E. (2014). Bioidentical hormone therapy: A review of the scientific evidence. Menopause, 21(4), 407-416.

Gambacciani, M., & Levancini, M. (2014). Hormone replacement therapy and the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review13(4), 213–220. https://doi.org/10.5114/pm.2014.44996

Santen, R. J., Allred, D. C., Ardoin, S. P., Archer, D. F., Boyd, N., Braunstein, G. D., Burger, H. G., Colditz, G. A., Davis, S. R., Gambacciani, M., Gower, B. A., Henderson, V. W., Jarjour, W. N., Karas, R. H., Kleerekoper, M., Lobo, R. A., Manson, J. E., Marsden, J., Martin, K. A., Martin, L., … Endocrine Society (2010). Postmenopausal hormone therapy: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism95(7 Suppl 1), s1–s66. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2009-2509

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