Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be helpful for treating symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and andropause (also known as male menopause). Signs of perimenopause are heavy menses, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep issues, low libido, and mood changes. Signs of andropause include decreases in energy and/or libido, changes in sexual performance, weight gain, sleep issues, and mood changes. Moreover, BHRT can also offer preventive benefits related to cardiovascular disease, memory function, and bone loss.
Hormones & BHRT
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers in the human body. Hormones have many jobs, including controlling the metabolism of food, sexual function, cognitive (memory and learning) functions, and mood.
Bioidentical hormones have the same chemical structures as the naturally occurring hormones produced in the human body and can therefore do the same things. Although some people use the terms bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) interchangeably, others may use the term HRT to refer only to synthetic hormones.
Bioidentical hormones are derived from diosgenin, which is sourced from yams. Some are created from animal sources. Both of these are identical in structure to hormones that occur naturally in the human body. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, have a chemical structure that may be similar to, but not exactly the same as, the hormones produced by the body. These chemical differences mean that synthetic hormones act differently in the body and can produce different effects.
What are the Benefits?
The benefits of taking hormones can be observed as quickly as within a few weeks, but this depends upon what hormones have been prescribed for you and the symptoms or concerns for which you are using the hormones. At Ellithia Healthcare, we recommend you commit to taking the prescribed hormones for three months before making a decision about whether they are beneficial for you.
How long will I need BHRT?
Many men and women will use BHRT for the rest of their lives, as it offers benefits for the cardiovascular system, memory function, and bone health. Others may choose to use hormones until they are no longer experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, or andropause. This is a very individual decision.
Bioidentical hormone prescriptions are often (but not always) covered through your healthcare insurance. However, unless your benefit plan includes a “Health Spending Account,” the cost of your appointments will likely be out of pocket. Please contact your benefits provider for specific details.
Are there any side effects?
Bioidentical hormones are not risky for the vast majority of people. Although some people experience side effects, such as acne and hair growth when taking testosterone, with proper management, BHRT is safe. In fact, most people can benefit significantly from the use of hormones if they are prescribed by a knowledgeable, regulated healthcare professional.