Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) vs. Natural remedies
Natural alternatives to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
Menopause – it’s the unavoidable phase of life that women across the world have in common. Female sex hormones plummet in our forties and fifties, and since hormonal balance is the foundation of all health, when they’re out of balance it can negatively affect every aspect of our wellbeing. Addressing diet, exercise and lifestyle may not be enough to support a particular hormone deficiency, and an alternative could be Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy or ‘BHRT’. So how does BHRT compares to taking a natural approach through lifestyle intervention? When dealing with such a complex issue, are ‘natural remedies’ ever enough? This is everything you need to know.
Why do hormone deficiencies occur in menopausal women?
There are two important hormones for regulating women’s menstrual cycles: oestrogen and progesterone. As women age, changes in the body can affect the production of these hormones. The levels tend to fluctuate during menopause and the years leading up to it – known as the perimenopause. During this time, women may experience several symptoms, but the severity and longevity of these symptoms will depend on the individual. No one experience of menopause is the same. As a rule of thumb, a third of women will sail through menopause with few problems, a third will have problematic symptoms which affect them, and a third will have an extremely difficult menopause which has life-altering implications.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The most common side effects include mood changes, hot flushes, heart palpitations, night sweats, insomnia, brain fog, aching joints, headaches, vaginal dryness, loss of libido and weight and skin changes. But there are actually over 30 symptoms of menopause that women may experience. Some patients tell us that they literally feel and look ten years older almost overnight.
What is BHRT?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) may be the answer to help rebalance our bodies and relieve the distressing symptoms associated with the menopause. BHRT refers to a treatment that utilises hormones promoted as being molecularly identical to those produced by the body. This therapy aims to rebalance the activities of hormones within the body to improve the patient’s quality of life and preserve health. By rebalancing the body’s hormones, BHRT also claims to restore the skin’s vitality and restabilise metabolism while resolving any menopausal symptoms.
What are the bioidentical hormones used?
Wild yam and soy contain many precursor molecules known as phytohormones, which can be easily converted into bioidentical hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone. Although they are botanical in origin, bioidentical hormones are not ‘plant extracts’, as these ingredients have been transformed into hormone molecules.
How effective is it?
BHRT comes in various forms, including tablets, creams gels or vaginal creams. Most women report seeing an improvement within several days of starting hormonal therapy. For most symptomatic women the use of BHRT is very effective, and a significant improvement in symptoms can expect to be seen over weeks and months.
What about natural remedies?
Many women are keen to explore natural remedies, often believing that they are safer, risk free and without side effects. Making some lifestyle adjustments can help combat menopausal symptoms, but they won’t restore a more youthful hormonal balance. They can help smooth the journey and help with symptom control.
Adding phytoestrogens into your diet may help balance hormones throughout menopause, thereby reducing menopausal symptoms. Tofu, miso, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, soya milk, celery, and rhubarb are rich sources of phytoestrogens.
To support bone health throughout menopause, we recommend supplementing calcium, vitamin D and magnesium – all of which are vital for maintaining the integrity of your bones. Taking fish oils and probiotics can also be helpful for hormonal balance.
Weight gain is a common symptom of the menopause, caused by the effect of declining insulin on oestrogen levels. Manage this by reducing your portion sizes and focusing on adding more vegetables and protein into your diet. Daily exercise can also really help. In fact, research has found that 40% of women who exercised for eight weeks reported a decrease in stress and anxiety and an increase in energy and sex drive.
If you’d like to talk to someone about the menopausal symptoms you’re experiencing and the options available for combatting them, click here to enquire or book a consultation.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.