Hormone balance can be influenced by a number of factors. Fluctuations in hormone levels occur throughout the lifecycle, some are just a natural part of aging while others may be the result of stress, toxic exposures, diet, or unhealthy sleep patterns. It is important to monitor your hormone levels throughout the lifespan and take action early to address imbalances before it affects your health or quality of life.
Benefits of Balanced Hormones
Achieving hormonal balance offers women a number of benefits, such as more energy, better sleep, and stabilized moods, but beyond that research has shown that hormone therapy improves overall health by reducing risk of disease.
This is most often attributed to women in menopause to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Indeed, in March 2016, the results of the highly anticipated ELITE study were published in NEJM, concluding that women who begin hormone therapy early in their menopausal years experienced a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Yet, hormonal therapy is not just for menopausal women. Younger women are often seen with irregular periods, heavy bleeding, PCOS, anxiety or depression can also benefit, as well as pre-menopausal women. Hormones are helpful for women throughout the lifespan.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The benefits of bioidentical hormones far outweigh the risks. Bioidentical hormones are most commonly prescribed to treat symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, loss of libido, fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, and irritability. Many clinicians believe that those who opt for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) instead of undergoing conventional (synthetic) hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will experience fewer adverse reactions. The side effects of BHRT are usually mild if present at all.
Some of the benefits of using bioidentical hormones include:
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis and improved bone density
- Reduced incidence of hot flashes and vaginal dryness
- Better maintenance of muscle mass and strength
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Reduced risk of endometrial and breast cancer
- Reduced risk of depression
- Improved sleep
- Better mood, concentration and memory
- Improved libido
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Many patients opt for BHRT because it is not a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare. Each bioidentical hormone prescription is custom-compounded, based on each patient’s individual diagnostic results, making bioidentical hormones safer and more effective in comparison to conventional (synthetic) hormones.
Side Effects of Hormones
Conventional, or synthetic, hormones are synthesized in a lab and typically derived from plant progesterone and animal estrogens (phytoestrogens). Synthetic hormones are very near—but not identical—to the molecular structure of the hormones produced within the human body. Women going through menopause often use synthetic hormones to treat symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and low libido. The menopausal symptoms are generally the result of declining estrogen levels.
In many cases, the body interprets synthetic hormones as foreign toxins because it cannot metabolize the chemical make-up of the hormone. This often leads to a variety of unwanted side effects ranging from non-life threatening to more serious medical conditions.
Common side effects associated with the use of synthetic hormones include:
- Blood clots
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Cardiovascular diseases
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) studies reported that women who used conventional (synthetic) hormone replacement therapy were faced with a higher risk of developing breast cancer and heart disease. Soon after the WHI findings were released to the public, many women began seeking out natural alternatives to conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Unlike synthetic hormones, bioidentical hormones are structural replicas of the body’s natural hormones. Since bioidentical hormones share an identical molecular structure to the hormones the body produces naturally, bioidentical hormone therapy is a safer and more effective method of treating symptoms of hormonal imbalance, without hormone therapy side effects.