Hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of life. Remember when you were a teenager? How life abruptly and suddenly changes, and you couldn’t get a handle on what was going on? The same thing happens as you age.
Typically men’s testosterone levels start to decrease by 1% each year as early as their thirties. And if you are a woman in your 40’s/50’s, watch out! Peri-menopause and menopause may sneak up on you before you realize it’s happened.
What Are Hormonal Imbalances?
Both men and women experience many of the same symptoms in andropause (men) and menopause (women). If your hormones are out of balance, then you’re probably battling hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, brain fog, or a variety of other symptoms that may make you feel unstable. It can feel like your body and your brain have suddenly betrayed you.
Other conditions like adrenal fatigue and thyroid imbalances can also disrupt your physical and emotional well-being. Regardless of what the cause is, these hormonal shifts can be uncomfortable and alarming. There was a time when the symptoms that came with hormone imbalances were to be ignored or endured. That has changed.
The effects of hormone imbalance can now be treated by hormone replacement therapy. The question you may be asking yourself is- which type of hormone therapy should I choose? Traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
Both therapies’ goal is the same- to get your hormones back into balance and restore your well-being. But there are some differences between them. Let’s take a look at what they are to understand your options better and take control of your health.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Your body is an amazing thing. It knows exactly what to do and when to do it. It produces its own hormone supply throughout your lifetime, which supports essential physiological and neurological functions.
It’s normal for hormone production to naturally decrease with age. Certain health and lifestyle choices can also disrupt it. Hormone replacement therapy compensates for the decrease in hormones by replenishing the supply of those that are lacking.
Unfortunately, your hormones cannot be replaced with human-derived hormones. This means that the hormones in hormone replacement therapy have to be derived from something else. Traditional HRT uses synthetic and animal-derived hormones that closely mimic human hormones. Your body then uses them in much the same way as your natural hormones.
Hormones in BHRT are derived from plant molecules like yams and soy. We call them bioidentical hormones as they are chemically identical to human hormones. Because they are an exact match to the hormones and hormone receptors in your body, your body reacts to them as it would your own natural hormones.
BHRT vs HRT
Which type of hormone therapy you use is your choice. It’s crucial that you understand what it is that you are putting in your body. So let’s take a look at the differences between traditional HRT and BHRT. Here are the facts:
HRT vs BHRT: Symptom Relief
Traditional HRT does not always provide complete symptom relief for all patients.
BHRT has been shown to provide similar or superior symptom relief as HRT.
HRT vs BHRT: Side Effects
Every treatment or medicine has its own set of side effects. Some can be mild, while others can be severe.
HRT: Traditional HRT comes with the unwanted side effects of bloating, nausea, breast tenderness, stomach cramps, and headaches.
BHRT: Research suggests that bioidentical hormones are less likely to cause side effects. For example, side effects associated with synthetic progestins are nearly eliminated through the use of natural progesterone.
HRT vs BHRT: Dosage
The right amount of hormones must be delivered into your body to find and maintain hormonal balance.
HRT: Traditional hormones are typically standardized. They come in a limited range of standardized doses. This may compromise efficacy and tolerability because you may have to choose between a dose that is too low to relieve your symptoms and a higher dose that relieves your symptoms but produces significant side effects.
BHRT: Bioidentical hormones can be customized to the needs of each patient. This means that BHRT provides exactly the amount of hormone you need, which leads to optimized symptom relief without excess side effects or health risks.
HRT vs BHRT: Research and Familiarity
So far, studies on BHRT have been compelling, but the body of research is not as extensive as that which exists on traditional HRT.
Practitioners in the United States are not as familiar with BHRT as traditional HRT, but bioidentical hormones have been successfully used in Europe for decades.
Since commercial BHRT was not introduced to the U.S. until 1998, patients have to look a little harder to find practitioners with the knowledge necessary to create customized, evidence-based BHRT treatment plans.
HRT vs BHRT: Ethical Considerations
If you have ethical objections to animal-derived hormones, then traditional HRT is not for you. Synthetic hormones use conjugated equine estrogen (CEE), like estradiol, extracted from horse urine. Bioidentical hormones would be a better option as they are plant-based.
HRT vs BHRT: Insurance
It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company about any medicine or treatment first to get a clear understanding of what it does and does not cover.
Most FDA-approved traditional hormones are covered by insurance. The amount of coverage depends on your plan.
Compounded bioidentical hormones are not FDA approved. Therefore, most insurances do not cover these. The insurance company may tell you they are covered when you call, but make sure that they know what your provider is using for the therapy.
Hormonal Changes Are Inevitable, But You Have Options
And with the right hormone replacement therapy, a thoughtful self-care strategy, and the support of a caring practitioner, you can regain your quality of life.
If You’re Ready to Feel Better, We Can Help!
Do you think your hormones are out of balance? We can help!
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- Schedule a Consultation by phone or text! We love the personal approach.
- Get your labs & comprehensive health report.
- Start feeling your best with Health on your Horizon!