Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is one treatment option for women suffering from menopause. Symptoms of menopause can vary from moderate to severe, and include a slowed metabolism, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression, memory loss, mood swings, weight gain and low libido. One way to treat the symptoms of menopause is to replace the hormones that a woman’s body is no longer producing.
Until the 1980s, we were obliged to use synthetic hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause; medical chemists had not yet devised means to make the actual female hormones. Since 1985 we have had access to bioidentical estradiol and since the early 1990s, bioidentical progesterone. These bioidentical hormones are the exact same molecules as the hormones made by a woman’s body. They are created in the laboratory from plant precursors or by using recombinant DNA technology. The latter method gives vast quantities of inexpensive medicine, 100% pure, and is preferred.
Bioidentical hormones are available in many different forms, including pills, injections, suppositories and creams. In addition to menopause, BHRT can be used to treat perimenopause and premenstrual syndrome.
Therapeutic hormones can be custom-made for the individual patient. There is nothing magic about one delivery system or another, but there are advantages to some. Because estradiol, especially, has natural effects upon the liver’s metabolism of foods and medicines, it is advantageous to give this drug through the skin rather than orally. This essentially eliminates the risks of clotting and of drug interactions that are otherwise present when estrogenic hormones are taken orally.
Candidates for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
We use bioidentical hormones as our default, believing that the physician should replace what the body is lacking. Thus, all women who are suffering from the menopause may be candidates for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Menopausal women who come to me using synthetic-hormone replacement who have not experienced significant symptom relief might consider switching to bioidentical hormones.
Risks And Complications of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
The risks of bioidentical hormones are these same as those of synthetic hormone therapy:
- Breast pain
- Uterine Bleeding
- Mood swings
These are all matters of individual tolerance and can be prevented or eliminated by thoughtful prescribing. The key to success in these matters is to take the time to understand what the patient needs and how she is responding to the therapy prescribed.