Most women associate hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with menopause, but it actually has many more uses to correct hormone concerns that arise throughout a lifetime. Naturopathic and functional medicine doctors use a special class of hormone replacement therapy, called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), to treat not only menopausal women, but, also perimenopause, fertility, PMS, PCOS, anxiety, insomnia, and even men who are having issues with low testosterone.
Bioidentical hormones are derived and modified from natural sources, such as the Wild Mexican Yam, and are structurally identical to the hormones our bodies naturally produce. Therefore, we can expect similar results from them.
Bioidentical hormones differ from synthetic hormone replacement therapy in several ways. Synthetic hormones are chemically foreign from the hormones we produce, so, they often behave a little differently than our natural hormones. One significant difference is that synthetic hormones have been shown to bind more tightly to the receptors in our bodies, which makes the receptors work overtime and have a much more potent effect, sometimes more than what we want.
A good example of synthetic hormones hijacking the normal processes of the body is birth control. Hormonal birth control is made up of synthetic hormones that bind very tightly to the body’s estrogen and progesterone receptors and “trick” the body into thinking it’s pregnant. This can happen even in relatively low doses. In this way, we can use the synthetic hormones to our benefit for family planning, but, we don’t necessarily need this effect in our hormone balance regime.
Bioidentical hormone therapy offers several options for delivery and personalization. Bioidentical hormones are often compounded, which provides more flexibility in customized dosing and delivery form for your personal needs. The forms of bioidentical hormone therapy generally include transdermal cream or gel, lozenges, capsules, or suppositories.
Some benefits of bHRT include:
- Lowers cholesterol and increases HDL (the good fat)
- Maintains collagen in our skin and connective tissues
- Improve cognition and protect brain tissue
- Improve sleep
- Improve mood and alleviate anxiety
- Mitigate thermal regulation (warm rushes and hot flashes)
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Stabilizes bone health
At Hill Park Integrative Medical Center, we have several doctors who specialize in the prescription of bioidentical hormones for many different clinical applications. We treat both according to symptoms and labs and have had great success in hormone treatments across many patient populations, including reproductive age women, men, fertility, and post/perimenopausal women.
We don’t think that bioidentical hormone therapy is the only hormone balance regime – there are many solutions to hormone imbalance with the use of herbal medicine, targeted nutrient therapy, acupuncture, and many other resources. For moderate to severe concerns, bioidentical hormones can be very effective, especially in combination with other natural therapies, to correct hormone balance and are safe when applied correctly by an experienced doctor.