Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness are symptoms that many women deal with as they move through menopause. These symptoms impact women’s daily lives and their quality of life. In an effort to get their lives back, women are looking for solutions for symptoms of menopause.
One solution is using bioidentical hormones to even out the changes in female hormones that cause these problems. What are bioidentical hormones and how do they work?
Bioidentical hormones are hormones that have the exact same chemical structure as ones that our body produces. They are also hormones that are made from plant substances, usually soy and yams, and converted into the exact form of estrogens our body produces. They can help balance hormones and reduce menopausal symptoms.
The bioidentical estrogens are 17 beta-estradiol, estrone and estriol. The body cannot tell the difference between these and the hormones your ovaries produce.
In addition to estrogens, there's also bioidentical micronized progesterone. This is used in combination with estrogens to reduce symptoms.
This combination of estrogens and progesterone is used for all women with a uterus. The combination can prevent the increased risk of endometrial cancer that happens if only estrogens are being prescribed.
If a woman has had a hysterectomy a more personalized bioidentical treatment that does not necessarily include progesterone may be included.
Bioidentical estrogens can be prescribed in pill, patch, cream, gel, lotion or vaginal preparation form. Progesterones are in capsules or gel form only. Bioidentical hormones have been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms without side effects.
One of the concerns some patient express about hormone replacement therapy is in regards to the controversy surrounding the use of hormones during the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).
During that study it was found that taking synthetic hormones increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots. The recommendations for that study were clear. Women need to have discussions with their doctors before taking hormone replacement therapy.