Bioidentical hormones are also known as bioidentical hormone therapy or natural hormone therapy. The process involves inducing artificial hormones into the body.
These artificial hormones are identical on a molecular level to the hormones naturally produced in the human body.
This therapy is mainly suggested for people who are going through how or unbalanced hormone-related issues. However, along with the benefits that the treatment offers, there are some downsides to it as well.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Hormones are a very important part of the human body. They are responsible for controlling our mood, growth, development, sexual life, and more. Natural hormones are chemicals that are produced in the endocrine gland.
These are released into the bloodstream and transferred to different body parts. However, sometimes with age or under some medical conditions, some people’s bodies fail to produce adequate amounts of hormones necessary for their bodies.
To overcome the issues that arise due to this, physicians suggest bioidentical hormone treatment.
Bioidentical hormones are man-made. These are designed to mimic the hormones made by the glands of the human body.
Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) makes use of processed hormones that are derived from plants. The most commonly used bioidentical hormones are progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
The major benefits of artificially engineered bioidentical hormones are as follows:
- Mimics the Natural Hormones
As mentioned earlier, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is used to treat hormonal imbalances with the help of synthetically created hormones that are derived from plant estrogens.
The first hormone that it mimics is Estriol. Estriol is a weaker form of the estrogen hormone that offers its role during pregnancy. Another hormone that it mimics is Progesterone which is closely associated with menstruation and pregnancy.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is another important hormone that Bioidentical Hormones mimic.
This type of androgen hormone plays a major role in the production of other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. The last hormone that it mimics is Melatonin, which plays a major role in regulating one’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Improves Sexual Experience
Everyone is aware of the vital role hormones play in providing one with a satisfactory sex life. However, with the imbalance in hormones, they start losing their sex drive, thereby leading to an unsatisfactory sexual experience.
For men, the symptoms include erectile dysfunction, low libido, and a decrease in muscle mass. While in the case of women, the common symptoms of hormone deficiency are vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
Bioidentical hormone treatment assists in restoring the levels of testosterone and other hormones that contribute towards providing satisfactory sexual function.
- Decreases Symptoms of Menopause and Andropause
Hormonal imbalance occurs in both men and women throughout their lifetime. The phases when women experience hormone fluctuations are during puberty, pregnancy, and childbirth.
However, the phase where women tend to experience these imbalances most acutely is during perimenopause and menopause. The same stands true in the case of men.
While the primary cause of this is lowered estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone levels, other factors also contribute to it. These include stress, diabetes, underactive or overactive thyroid, obesity, improper diet, and chemotherapy.
- Increases Muscle Mass & Reduces Weight
The major effect of unbalanced hormones in a man’s body is a decrease in muscle mass. Apart from this, there is also visible weight gain in both men and women.
Associated with these symptoms, both men and women also experience fatigue, lethargy, irritability, less concentration, and more.
If left untreated for a long, it can also lead to serious health conditions associated with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, and prostate disease.
By increasing the hormone levels, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy boosts the energy levels in both men and women, thus helping them reduce weight through regular exercise and physical activity.
This therapy is also effective for men in increasing and building muscle mass.
- Reduces Hair Thinning
Hair loss is a very common visible problem most men and women face during menopause or andropause. Hormones do not just contribute to keeping the bones strong, but they also look after the health and growth of hair.
Bioidentical therapy is very helpful in curing thinning hair or hair loss. As mentioned earlier, bioidentical hormones are very similar to the body’s hormones. Their similarity makes it difficult for the body to detect any differences or changes.
Thus, the boost of estrogen and progesterone levels due to bioidentical hormone therapy balances the proposition of these hormones in the body, thereby assisting in the natural production of hair.
What are the Risks Associated with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
The bioidentical hormones are safe to use as they have been approved and have passed the FDA’s strict standards.
However, alongside offering numerous life-changing benefits, continuous reliance on bioidentical hormone therapy also leads to the rise of certain risk factors, especially in women. Some of the risks associated with Bioidentical Hormone Therapy are as follows:
- Blood Clots
Studies have shown that Bioidentical Hormone Therapy causes the risk of blood clots or venous thrombosis, especially in women. Thrombosis is a condition where blood clots block the blood vessels.
Venous thrombosis is a medical condition where blood clots block the vein that carries blood from the body back into the heart.
- Breast Cancer
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy also increases the risk of breast cancer in women. However, the risk is most associated if the patient had breast cancer in the past. In such cases, doctors vehemently advise against administering bioidentical hormones.
- Gallbladder Disease
Gallbladder disease is common post-menopause or andropause. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy augments the risks associated with gallbladder disease.
The risks are especially higher for females. Studies have shown that women undertaking hormone therapy were 30% to 40% more likely to need gallbladder surgery.
- Breast Tenderness
Most women experience breast tenderness after undergoing Bioidentical Hormone Therapy. These women have a greater risk of developing breast cancer.
However, this is often seen in women who take combined estrogen-plus-progestin therapy. Women who only take up estrogen therapy are less at risk of experiencing breast tenderness after treatment.
There is no doubt to the fact that hormone imbalance can cause many physical and emotional issues in both men and women. Therefore, taking up bioidentical hormone therapy can definitely prove beneficial.