Hormone Replacement Therapy
Synthetic versus Bio-identical
Your body’s hormones control most of your basic bodily functions. They serve as an internal communication system between cells throughout the body. They coordinate everything from digestion and growth to your appetite, immune function, mood, and libido. So, when your hormones are out of balance, even slightly, it can have a big impact on your health and well-being.
Often, when people’s hormones drop or become unbalanced, they turn to hormone replacement therapies to ease symptoms. The most commonly prescribed synthetic hormones on the market include Premarin, Provera, and Prempro. Taking these synthetic hormones can include increased risk of cardiovascular complications, increased risks of thickening of the uterus, which can lead to uterine cancer. Also, as with most drugs that help alleviate the symptoms of menopause, there is an increased risk of some forms of breast cancer. Taking synthetic hormones can also increase blood clots, restlessness or insomnia, irregular bleeding, depression, breast tenderness, growth of facial hair and fluid retention.
So, what is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) promises a “natural” solution to hormone issues. But what exactly is BHRT, and how’s it different from other hormone replacement therapies? BHRT is hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones women make in their bodies. They're not found in this form in nature but are made, or synthesized, from a plant chemical extracted from yams and soy. Bioidentical estrogens are 17 beta-estradiol, estrone, and estriol. (Estradiol is the form of estrogen that decreases at menopause.) Bioidentical progesterone is simply progesterone. It's micronized (finely ground) in the laboratory for better absorption in the body. Bioidentical hormone therapy is often called "natural hormone therapy" because bioidentical hormones act in the body just like the hormones we produce. Technically, the body can't distinguish bioidentical hormones from the ones your ovaries produce. On a blood test, your total estradiol reflects the bioidentical estradiol you've taken as well as the estradiol your body makes.
In short, synthetic hormones give you limited estrogen that reduces your menopause symptoms while BHRT provides you with estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in levels that your body once produced them.
BHRT can be administered in a number of methods, including:
Troches (or lozenges)