How is BHRT different from conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
HRT uses synthetic forms of hormones that our body does not break down and metabolize as well as its own natural hormones, resulting in potentially harmful by-products and unfavourable side effects. There is research to support that the risks of conventional HRT outweigh the benefits. Studies have shown that synthetic estrogen and progestin can increase the risk of stroke, breast cancer, heart attack, and blood clots that outweigh the benefits of reduction in osteoporosis and colorectal cancer.
Are they safe?
Evidence comparing bio-identical hormones with synthetic HRT have shown that bioidenticals are associated with lower risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease and can be more efficacious than synthetic HRT. Low progesterone levels appear to be associated with the development of breast cancer and the use of bio-identical progesterone can help mitigate that risk. Research indicates that contrary to synthetic progesterone, natural progesterone does not increase risk of breast cancer, and it may even be protective against it. There is clear evidence that bioidentical hormones are a much safer option than synthetic hormone replacement. With that said, even bioidentical hormones do not come without risk, which is why close monitoring by a trained healthcare practitioner is so important.
Are Bio-Identical Hormones for Me?
We do not prescribe bioidentical estrogen or progesterone without doing a thorough assessment, and testing a woman’s levels through the blood or the urine using regular blood work up or the DUTCH. After receiving a thorough understanding of symptoms, their severity, and personal and family history, we are be able to advise you on whether or not bioidentical hormones are the right fit for you. Women can be deficient in or have excessive levels estrogen, progesterone or both. It is common for women over 35 to be progesterone deficient as many no longer ovulate with each cycle leading to a drop in progesterone. Other hormones, such as thyroid and cortisol must also be considered when addressing one’s hormonal imbalance picture. Liver and gut health is also vital to address as both are involved in detoxifying and eliminating excess hormones in the body. As well, it goes without saying that healthy diet and exercise also play a vital role in hormone balance in the body. All these factors should we considered when deciding whether hormone replacement is for you or not.
Are There Other Alternatives?
There are also certain herbal and vitamin formulations that can be effective at balancing hormone and either gently boosting or lowering levels, depending on the desired effect. Treating the adrenal glands is a vital part of the process as cortisol has a major implication on the hormonal system. Certain foods can also be used in therapeutic doses to impact hormone levels. Due to many complex factors, it’s is always best to start by first determining what your baseline hormone levels are.
How Long Would I Have to be on BHRT For?
It depends. There are two ways of looking at BHRT. One is that menopause symptoms do not occur for the rest of a woman’s life, and once symptoms, subside we can gradually scale back on the hormones until they are no longer required. The other is that hormones are like vitamins or minerals that get depleted as we age. At the correct dose it is safe to be on hormones for longer, even when the symptoms are resolved. There are many protective benefits that hormones give a female, especially estrogen which has been show to provide protection against bone loss, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. The best approach for you depends on different factors and will be discussed during your appointments.
Is BHRT covered by my insurance?
Many insurances do cover BHRT from compounding pharmacies, but always check with your specific insurance provider. Your insurance may also have a health expenditure account that could cover the prescription.