There is no denying that as you age, your body changes. While some of these changes are visible, many are not. A major challenge that many women face is a decrease in hormone production. Unbalanced hormones can affect many aspects of your life, from appetite and mood to libido and sleep. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, female patients can curb many of the undesirable symptoms of hormone decline.
If you are thinking about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), here are ten things you need to know:
1. Bioidentical hormones are made from plants.
Conventional hormones are often synthetic and derived from animal sources, but bioidentical hormones are derived from plant sources such as yams and soybeans. Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to those naturally produced by the body and have the same composition. They are commonly used to replace estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
2. Treatment can come in multiple forms.
BHRT can be administered in several different ways depending on your lifestyle, preference, and hormone replacement needs. It can be used as a cream, gel, pill, injection, patch, or pellet. Your doctor will discuss your options and how to use each one to determine which is right for you to optimize your hormone levels.
3. Some BHRT products are FDA-approved.
A lot of women are concerned about the safety of medications and products that they put in their bodies. There are FDA-approved formulations for BHRT female treatments that have been rigorously tested for safety, quality, and purity. Every dose contains the same amount of hormones made from approved components. Custom compounded products are not FDA approved at this time, but that does not necessarily mean they are unsafe.
4. Bioidentical hormones may help alleviate many symptoms of hormone decline.
A drop in hormones can impact multiple aspects of your life. You may experience brain fog, decreased sex drive, hot flashes, and mood swings. It is also possible you simply do not feel quite like yourself anymore, and you are not sleeping well. Bringing hormone levels back into balance as part of a functional medicine approach can improve your quality of life by addressing these symptoms and more.
5. Hormone therapy for women can make menopause more manageable.
Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, menstrual irregularities, and changes in libido can all be symptoms of menopause that leave you feeling frustrated and uncomfortable. But you do not have to resign yourself to simply dealing with these symptoms. BHRT can restore balance and minimize the disruption of menopause on your life. With improved vaginal health and increased libido, you can enjoy more pleasurable sexual intercourse and intimate moments with your partner. You can also sleep more comfortably without frequent night sweats or insomnia.
6. BHRT may be used for more than just the treatment of menopause.
Although menopause is one of the most common reasons for hormone therapy in women, BHRT can also be used to address thyroid or adrenal disorders, insulin resistance, fibromyalgia, symptoms from cancer therapy, and much more. Many people do not realize how hormone imbalance can affect their bodies and the benefits that managing hormone levels can have.
7. Bioidentical hormones may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
An added benefit of BHRT is that it may help slow bone loss related to a decrease in estrogen. By maintaining steady estrogen levels, bones remain stronger and less susceptible to fractures. Bioidentical hormones should not be used as the first line of defense against osteoporosis, but they can complement other treatment strategies.
8. Benefits can often be seen in just a few weeks.
Consistent use of BHRT allows hormone levels to build and stabilize. Many women see the full effect of hormone therapy within about three months. You will notice symptoms subsiding so you can get back to doing the activities you love with greater comfort and confidence. BHRT treatments can be combined with other functional medicine approaches to further enhance your quality of life.
9. BHRT is not a life-long treatment.
Many women start hormone therapy during perimenopause. Your functional medicine doctor will regularly monitor your hormone levels while on BHRT, but you will be placed on the lowest dose possible to optimize results. Once you start BHRT, it is not a treatment regimen that you will have to continue forever. Many women find that once they have completed menopause, the symptoms they experienced naturally resolve. Your doctor will work closely with you to manage your health and determine when you should start and stop using BHRT.
10. Benefits outweigh the risks for many women.
As with any medication, there are potential risks. Your doctor will carefully review your medical history and symptoms to decide if bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is right for you. Some side effects decrease as your body adjusts to the hormones. BHRT is generally considered safe, and the benefits can be significant for many women. Your doctor will closely monitor your health to minimize potential risks and complications.
Take Control of Your Health and Well-Being with BHRT
You do not have to settle with the frustrating effects of hormone imbalance. Combat symptoms and rejuvenate your body with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Contact Dr. Tracy Page at the Wisconsin Institute of Functional Medicine to schedule an appointment and learn more about how BHRT can change your life for the better.