Are you struggling with the effects of menopause? If you’ve been dealing with hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, problems sleeping, mood changes and more, you may be considering hormone replacement therapy to help bring your symptoms under control.
For years, doctors have prescribed drugs such as Premarin,
Prempro and others to help women deal with these symptoms, but recently a
government-funded study found that these medications can cause serious
side-effects, including increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and
The report — based on trials with more than 16,000 women — said that the “overall health risks exceeded benefits… and the results indicate that this regimen should not be initiated or continued.”
Since this report came out in 2002, scientists have searched for better ways to treat the symptoms of menopause. Enter a revolutionary new treatment: bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy differs from traditional hormone replacement therapy in two key ways.
First, both Premarin and Prempro use ingredients that are not ideal for human consumption. Premarin, which only contains estradiol, not the other two types of estrogen that your body needs, is derived from the urine of pregnant horses, which means it is not bioidentical to the hormones found in women. And Prempro is made with a combination of estrogen and synthetically-produced progesterone.
By contrast, bioidentical hormones are derived from the estrogens of plants (including soybeans and yams), and are chemically identical to those the human body produces.
Secondly, both Premarin and Prempro are one-size fits all drugs, meaning that each patient receives the same amount of hormones, regardless of what her body actually needs. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, you get tested for your specific levels of key hormones, and based on your results, specialists can make a formula that is specially designed just for your levels.
BHRT: Encouraging results
As for the effectiveness of BHRT, key tests have produced positive results. The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that in a study of women recovering from breast cancer, BHRT had decided benefits.
“Most women reported resolution of menopausal symptoms, better sleep, decreased migraines and incontinence, increased focus, and increased libido,” the Journal of Clinical Oncology report stated. “[They] were pleased to be on the treatment and showed general improvement in the quality of life.”
The prestigious Cleveland Clinic also points out that “many doctors who use bioidentical hormones claim they are safer than regular HRT.” Long-term studies will determine their ultimate efficacy; so far, none have been undertaken. But those BHRT treatments approved by the FDA have been tested for safety, passing very strict testing standards.
What to know before your BHRT treatment
At the Center for Holistic Medicine, we are pleased to announce that Patricia DeAngelis, MS, APRN, FNP-BC, who is a functional medicine practitioner, is now able to offer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
After you undergo lab testing for your hormone levels, DeAnglis will then prescribe a custom-compounded bioidentical hormone replacement therapy designed specifically for you. She will also suggest a method of treatment that’s best for you. These include pills, patches, creams, gels, shots and implanted pellets.
As with any hormone treatment, there are side effects associated with BHRT, which include acne, bloating and weight gain. That’s why it is important to schedule several follow-up appointments with DeAngelis to monitor your hormone levels so you can receive the most effective treatment over time.
The passage of menopause can often feel lonely and agonizing. It’s good to know that with the right experts at your side you won’t have to go it alone.