What Are the Pros and Cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy? | BodyLogicMD

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy?

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The collection of glands that produce hormones are known as the endocrine system. Though tiny in size, they do everything from regulating your metabolism and allowing you to sleep to initiating labor, and if they are out of balance, it can seriously knock your body out of whack.

For menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses one or more hormones to treat symptoms of menopause, which may include:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats, usually at their worst for the first one to two years after the last period
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Less interest in sex

For men, hormone replacement therapy should be considered when there is:

  • A change in sexual function, such as reduced sexual desire and fewer spontaneous erections
  • A change in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Physical changes, such as increased body fat, reduced muscle bulk and strength, and decreased bone density
  • Less energy
  • Emotional changes, such as feeling sad or depressed
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things

In both men and women, these signs and symptoms can be caused by various underlying factors, including the use of medication, sleep apnea, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and depression. Your age, body type, diet, activity level, physical environment, and work satisfaction can all play significant roles in how your endocrine system performs.

What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

 Bioidentical hormones are a molecule-by-molecule replica of the hormones that are naturally produced by the body. But what is the difference between bioidentical hormones and conventional hormones? And are bioidentical hormones safer than conventional hormones?

Conventional hormones that are applied in a one-size-fits-all approach are often under a patent held by pharmaceutical companies. Though the dosage may vary, the molecular structure of the prescribed hormone is the same for every single person on that drug, whether men or menopausal women. Additionally, conventional hormones are not created the same as naturally occurring (also known as endogenous) hormones, and can lead to uncomfortable side effects.

While conventional hormones can mimic the effects of the hormones your own body creates, they rarely offer the same effectiveness of endogenous or bioidentical hormones. A handful of serious side effects have been associated with conventional hormones and there is an increased risk for diseases connected with conventional hormones that need to be addressed by you and your healthcare provider.

With bioidentical hormones, which are derived from natural sources such as yams or soy, each dose is tailored specifically for your needs. Bioidentical hormones are designed to be identical to the hormones your body produces naturally. In this way, bioidentical hormones are like jigsaw puzzle pieces designed to fit perfectly into your body’s hormone receptors to maintain optimal function.

What Are the Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy?

 With any hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there can be side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Increased acne
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Breast tenderness
  • Itching at the application site

Hormone therapy can, in certain circumstances, also increase breast cancer risk. And if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or have tested positive for an abnormal breast cancer gene (BRCA1 or BRCA2) and are at high risk, you shouldn’t use HRT.

There are other ways that hormone replacement therapy is not for everyone. You may not be a candidate for HRT if you:

  • Think that you are pregnant
  • Have problems with vaginal bleeding
  • Have had cancer
  • Have had a stroke or heart attack
  • Have had blood clots
  • Have liver disease
  • Have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease

It’s also true that the risk of any hormonal product depends on more than how the hormone is made. That’s why it’s important to work closely with a hormone specialist to decide what’s right for you.

Not all bioidentical hormones are alike. They are created in compounding laboratories, and dosages are set by a practicing physician. This is why it’s incredibly important that you work with a professional, such as those within the BodyLogicMD network, who are well-versed in hormone replacement therapy and understand how best to apply bioidentical hormones.

Research shows that dosages and the use of naturally occurring estrogen is key. For instance, application of estradiol, a potent, naturally occurring estrogen is more effective than conventional preparations. Most worrisome is the fact that conventional hormones can act as toxins because their chemical makeup cannot always be metabolized properly.

“Bioidentical estrogen applied through the skin gets much better results in the prevention of Alzheimer’s than synthetic estrogen taken by mouth,” says Dr. Jennifer Landa, chief medial officer of BodyLogicMD. “There is also some strong evidence for bioidentical progesterone. Progesterone protects the brain. The natural form of progesterone has benefits for the brain whereas the synthetic progesterone is actually worse for the brain. In both cases, bioidentical hormones are the best approach.”

What Are the Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Bioidentical hormones have a proven track record in helping men and women cope with hormonal imbalance, whether it’s related to age, menopause, or perimenopause. A number of studies conducted in clinical settings have produced evidence that hormone therapy effectively helps ameliorate conditions that are associated with menopause, including night sweats, hot flashes, bone loss and vaginal dryness. When these conditions are addressed, quality of life around sleep and sex is also improved.

The primary indications for HRT for women include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and prevention of osteoporosis. For men, the primary effect of aging is a decrease in testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy, which includes testosterone replacement, can help address:

  • Bone density
  • Fat distribution
  • Muscle strength and mass
  • Facial and body hair
  • Red blood cell production
  • Sex drive
  • Sperm production

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has also shown promise in helping to ameliorate or mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are clear connections between a decrease in estrogen levels and an increased risk of a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Researchers have also learned that a drop in estradiol levels, which can happen during menopause, reduces the production of insulin-degrading enzyme, or IDE, which degrades beta-amyloid, a protein fragment strongly associated with Alzheimer’s.

“There is significant research into how effective estrogen therapy works to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Landa. “Some studies have shown a decrease of Alzheimer’s with estrogen therapy, and researchers are starting to realize that timing of the hormone therapy may have an impact.”

The bioidentical hormone specialists in the BodyLogicMD network are trained to identify the signs of Alzheimer’s disease that are associated with menopause. BodyLogicMD physicians are members of the largest national network of experts focused on the benefits of preventive medicine. With their knowledge of holistic medicine and bioidentical hormones, BodyLogicMD physicians have helped innumerable women and men intent on improving and extending their lives.

Why You Should Turn to BodyLogicMD to Answer Your Questions About HRT

As with any medical treatment designed to address a healthcare concern, hormone replacement therapy is only as safe as the provider you choose to work with. The healthcare professionals in the BodyLogicMD network specialize in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and have had extensive training in the science of hormones. In addition to their advanced pursuit of knowledge in service to their clients, the physicians in the BodyLogicMD network must also complete the Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, which is focused solely on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. There is no other team that meets the standard of BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians.

The Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine is offered by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, a non-profit organization dedicated to pursuing the science of anti-aging medicine focusing on the many symptoms and conditions related to aging.

Regenerative medicine optimizes the body’s internal mechanisms of self-repair and adds proven and prospective treatments and technologies. Another aspect of the fellowship is functional medicine, an integrative, science-based healthcare approach that focuses on the unique biochemical aspects of each person and treats age-related conditions with tailored interventions designed to restore balance of mind and body.

At the heart of functional medicine is an understanding of the basic metabolic processes and any genetic predispositions and how they are affected by the environment. Functional medicine is designed to treat the cause of the problems, rather than just the symptoms.

Functional medicine considers the give-and-take between the body’s natural processes and any outside factors that impact mental health and quality of life. It is patient-centered care that treats the patient as a person and not as the host of a disease or a suite of symptoms.

The healthcare professionals in the BodyLogicMD network take seriously your individual concerns and will help you identify your age-related or hormonal imbalance symptoms to tailor a treatment specific to you as a unique person, giving you the chance to live in the fullness of health and vitality.