Hormones control nearly all of the body’s functions. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for women is often used to increase lagging hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause. When hormone levels become unbalanced, it can affect nearly any part of your health. Replacement hormone therapy with bio-identical hormones is a natural solution that can also treat mood disorders, adrenal and thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, and other conditions.
What Are Bio-Identical Hormones?
Bio-identical hormones are man-made hormones that are very similar in molecular structure to those made by the human body. Drug companies often make matches for the three major sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These are the most likely hormones to decline as a person ages. While they prepare the body for reproduction during the earlier years, they also contribute to other functions in the body and your overall health and well-being.
As women near menopause, their bodies produce less estrogen, resulting in an extensive list of potential symptoms. Every woman differs in the type and degree of symptoms she experiences. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, slowing metabolism, and sleep problems are some of the most common symptoms, but there are many others. Some are mild enough to treat with lifestyle changes. Others are severe enough that they interfere with a woman’s quality of life.
Until early in 2002, estrogen and progestin were the gold standard of hormone therapy for treating menopause symptoms. That was when the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) ended a trial that showed an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots in women using the hormones. Due to the potential risk of harmful side effects, doctors advised their patients to stop their therapy, leading to the return of their symptoms.
The type of hormone treatment used conjugated estrogen from pregnant mares’ urine. Estrogen caused an increased risk of breast cancer, symptoms of breast tenderness, and sometimes bleeding. Many women were already in search of a better solution for their symptoms. Many thought they found it with the introduction of Estrace, a drug containing “natural” hormones derived from various animal, plant, or mineral sources.
In many cases, natural treatments offer safer, more effective treatments without the side effects of chemicals. That isn’t always the case when you’re talking about hormones. While hormones made from natural ingredients might have the desired impact on your symptoms, some natural substances like soy can increase the risk of breast tumor growth. One reason is that natural hormones are altered significantly in the lab, overriding the argument that anything natural is also safe.