As you age and enter perimenopause, your body naturally begins slowing the production of estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including changes in your menstrual cycle, vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain, and insomnia, but one of the most frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms can be hot flashes.
Hot flashes appear suddenly and can leave you flushed and sweaty. They are often accompanied by night sweats while you sleep. It may seem that this is an inconvenience you simply have to live with until you transition through menopause, but that is not necessarily the case. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT may provide much-desired relief.
What is BHRT?
Your body naturally produces a variety of hormones that regulate different functions. During perimenopause, reproductive hormones begin to decrease. BHRT is a type of hormone replacement therapy that uses hormones that are nearly identical to your natural hormones. They are derived from plant sources rather than synthetically made, making them a more natural option that is readily accepted by your body.
Bioidentical hormones replace depleted levels of estrogen and progesterone that can trigger perimenopause symptoms. Bringing these hormone levels back into balance can minimize or stop hot flashes and other issues.
Am I A Good Candidate for Hormone Therapy?
If your hot flashes are disrupting your life and making you uncomfortable at the most inopportune moments, then BHRT may be a good option. It can help you get back to enjoying life with greater comfort because it addresses the cause of perimenopausal symptoms, not just the symptoms themselves.
How is BHRT Administered?
There are several different options available, including patches, creams, gels, and pellets. Pellets are inserted under the skin and release a consistent flow of hormones. Regardless of which option you choose, the dosage is tailored to your exact needs based on your hormone levels. Your doctor will monitor your body’s reaction to find the right balance and optimize results.
Can BHRT Help with Other Symptoms?
Yes, in addition to reducing hot flashes, you may also notice that other symptoms improve as well. Since hormones play a role in so many bodily functions and systems, when you bring levels back up to normal target ranges, it can have many benefits. You may notice:
- Less vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse
- Improved sex drive
- Better sleep
- Less brain fog
- Fewer mood swings
Is BHRT Safe?
Any medication comes with the potential for side effects because everyone’s body reacts differently. BHRT is generally considered safe for many women and is effective in reducing perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. It is important to let your functional medicine doctor know about any existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, or osteoporosis.
How Long Will I Have to Use Hormone Therapy?
It can take up to three months for the full effect of BHRT to be felt, and therapy is only continued for as long as you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your quality of life. Your doctor will use the lowest dose needed to control symptoms effectively. Many women find that once they have gone through menopause, they no longer experience hot flashes.
What Else Can I Do to Minimize Hot Flashes?
In addition to correcting hormonal imbalances, there are also several lifestyle changes you can make to help manage hot flashes:
- Wear lightweight clothing to keep your body cooler.
- Dress in layers that can be removed if you begin experiencing a hot flash.
- Quit smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight, as some studies have shown that obesity may increase the number and severity of hot flashes.
- Limit the number of spicy foods you eat, along with caffeine and alcohol, as they can make symptoms worse.
- Keep a small fan on hand to cool yourself down when a hot flash starts.
- Sip on cold water if you feel a hot flash coming on.
Reduce Hot Flashes and Improve Your Quality of Life with BHRT
If perimenopause and hot flashes are taking a toll on your quality of life and your ability to enjoy intimate moments with your partner, now is the time to discuss the benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Schedule an appointment at the Wisconsin Institute of Functional Medicine to learn more and better manage your perimenopause symptoms.