Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone and Endocrine Balancing
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) can be used to treat men and women when their hormone levels drop or become unbalanced. It’s most frequently used to ease symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, menopause, and andropause.
BHRT hormones are man made to be molecularly identical to the hormones that the body produces. BHRT hormones are typically made from plants like soy or wild yam, whereas conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is made from pregnant mare’s urine and synthetic hormones. When administered correctly, BHRT may be safer than conventional HRT.
BHRT is only recommended when saliva testing identifies a need for them. Hormone balancing involves looking at all of the hormones, understanding their interaction with one another, their down stream effects and metabolites, and working to achieve a physiologic balance. BHRT use may be considered for:
Relief of symptoms
Prevention of memory loss
Prevention of cancer
Some of the most common diseases that affect women after menopause are cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death among U.S. women), breast cancer (the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women), colorectal cancer (the third-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women), and osteoporosis (the leading cause of bone fracture in U.S. women).
In 1991, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of NIH, launched the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) to understand better how these diseases affect post-menopausal women and to reduce the number of women who develop and die from these diseases. More than 160,000 post-menopausal women ages 50 to 79 participated in the 15-year study, making it one of the largest prevention studies involving women in the United States.
Women with a uterus were given synthetic estrogen + a progestin (Prempro), and women without a uterus were given estrogen only (Premarin).
Safety and Efficacy
The WHI was stopped early (in 2002) as it found that post-menopausal women taking combination (estrogen and progestin) hormone therapy for menopause symptoms had an increased risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and urinary incontinence. Although women using combined hormone therapy had a lower risk of fractures and colorectal cancer, these benefits did not outweigh the risks. As a result, many women stopped taking hormone therapy because of fear of an increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The WHI identified significant risks, but the hormones used in the study were synthetic: congugated equine estrogens (made from pregnant mare’s urine) and medroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic progestin. Additionally, these hormones were administered orally, which increased the risks of blood clots and strokes.
Low dose, bioidentical hormones administered via patches or creams has proven to be a safer approach to managing the symptoms of menopause, without increasing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
How to Get Started
Book an appointment with Dr. Ferris to discuss if hormone replacement therapy is right for you. In your initial appointment, you'll discuss your concerns, symptoms and learn more about next steps, which may include laboratory testing, mindfulness and meditation, supplement plans and more.