Why Everyone is Talking About Bioidentical Hormones
Is It Right For Me?
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are a type of hormone replacement therapy most often recommended for women experiencing negative symptoms of menopause. The difference between bioidentical hormones and conventional hormones is that bioidentical hormones are plant-derived and are meant to look identical to our natural hormones. Although the research is ever-evolving, bioidentical hormones seem to have a better safety profile than conventional hormones, hence their rise in popularity in the past couple decades.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Right for Me?
In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors are able to prescribe bioidentical estrogens and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone naturally decline during menopause, so the most common patients I see for hormone replacement therapy are women experiencing unwanted symptoms of menopause. Vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, sexual dysfunction and vaginal atrophy are common to experience before and after menopause. While none of these symptoms are life threatening (which is probably why they are often dismissed) they can have a serious impact on a woman’s quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is the gold standard treatment for all of the above mentioned symptoms. Beyond the short term goal of reducing menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy may also reduce the risk of metabolic disease, osteoporosis and cognitive decline, especially if menopause began early.
When Should I Start Them? What's the Process?
The optimal time to initiate hormone replacement therapy is less than 10 years since your last menstrual period and before the age of 60. Some women do not qualify for hormone replacement therapy because they have a history of breast cancer, blood clots, endometrial cancer, stroke, heart attack or acute liver disease. In these instances, the risks of estrogen almost always outweigh the benefits of decreased symptoms. In these cases, I highly stress the importance of lifestyle and supplement support. For patients without these contraindications, during the initial appointment we will go through a thorough health history and then get started on nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, indicated nutritional supplements and discuss required lab work before getting started on hormone replacement therapy. Once initiating hormone replacement therapy and a 6 week follow-up, follow-ups will be every 6-12 months with accompanying lab work.
At each follow-up, we will check in on any symptoms you originally had when coming in. It can take between 4-12 weeks to notice the full effects of the hormone replacement therapy. If side effects occur, such a breast tenderness or bloating, we will decrease the dose finding the correct amount for your body. The length of time a woman remains on hormone replacement therapy can vary with some women wanting to remain on only to get them through the symptoms of menopause with others remaining on longer for the long-term protective benefits.
I Have More Questions!
If you are interested in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and would like to know more about it or if you would be a good candidate:
Article Written by:
Amanda Capasso - Naturopathic Doctor
Amanda focuses on hormonal health. She is known for taking her time with patients to truly understand what is causing their concerns. Similarly, she works tirelessly to help them feel supported and heard. Everything is connected in the human body. As such Amanda knows all too well that we can’t treat the skin without assessing hormones, gut health and environmental impacts. She is fired up about helping women understand their hormones and achieve radiant, gorgeous skin.