When we begin to think about the complexities of the human body it can be quite bewildering. It helps to think of the body as a machine. It’s a complex machine, one with many components, each which plays an important part in how we function. Alongside the vital organs we have the central processor – the brain and the nervous system – plus an intricate collection of vessels through which the blood carries oxygen and keeps us alive.
That’s without thinking about the skeletal elements, the bones and joints that allow us to exist and move as we wish. What is also true is that things can go wrong with all of these systems and components. Just as with a mechanical machine, parts wear out over time and begin to function less efficiently and with lower effects.
We’re here to talk about hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in glands throughout the body. They are carried in the bloodstream to inform organs and systems what they need to do. When we think of hormones, we think of sexual arousal, yet that is just one of the areas in which hormones perform. So, why are we so interested in bioidentical hormones? Let’s start with an explanation of what these are.
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not a new concept. It is performed when people start to experience their hormone production reducing which can have many strange effects on the individual concerned. More about that later, but first, we need to explain why bioidentical hormones are becoming the popular choice in HRT procedures.
When HRT began to become an everyday procedure, synthetic hormones were used. For example, the replacement for estrogen in women – which slows down before and during menopause – was made from the urine of pregnant horses. Being synthetic – and not biologically close to estrogen – it was found that prolonged use of such replacements could lead to cancers, as the body naturally reacts against them.
Bioidentical hormones are created in a laboratory and are chemically and in molecule structure identical to the hormone they are designed to replicate. This removes the reaction element, making them much safer than the older versions. But what exactly are bioidentical hormones made from?
What are Bioidentical Hormones Made From?
There is plenty of information about bioidentical hormones and how they are made available via search engines, and for us to go into detail about the various elements within would take more space than we have available. Generally, bioidentical hormones are created using various plant and animal matter that is found naturally. By way of advanced lab techniques an HRT substance can be created that is as close to the human natural version as possible.
Progesterone, for example, is an FDA-approved, tried and tested HRT material that is used to replace lost estrogen. This is a safe and successful treatment that many women have undergone and that has helped regain the lost substance of life that often comes with the menopause. Let’s have a brief look at why a woman may choose HRT, and how men can benefit from it.
Who Might Need Bioidentical HRT?
Most women endure menopause – usually in their 40’s – as it is the time in life when the reproductive system has passed its lifespan. The ovaries stop producing estrogen. This can have a great effect on a woman. Estrogen is not just about sex but is also a growth hormone that regulates hair growth and skin health. A woman will feel a variety of changes in her general mood and outlook – these are, of course, hormonally inspired. HRT can help with this.
Here are a few of the benefits of bioidentical hormones as HRT which should give you an idea of what a woman goes through during menopause.
- reduced fatigue
- increased sex drive
- less hair thinning
- reduced hot flashes
- less dry skin
- improved sleep
- reduced bloating
- better thinking and memory
Men, of course, do not experience menopause but some may go through what is known as andropause. This is when the testes stop producing testosterone, which regulates sex drive, erections, bone density, muscle mass, and also cognitive performance. As with women’s treatments there are many options with bioidentical HRT that can help get a man’s life back on track.
So, are bioidentical hormones safe?
Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe?
There is little doubt that bioidentical hormones are safer than the previously used synthetic option. However, this treatment may not be for every woman. The first step is to arrange a consultation at your local clinic. This will involve you discussing your family history, general health, and lifestyle with an expert. They will assess the best procedure for you going forward. You may also be asked to change your lifestyle for a healthier one.
Eat a better diet, for example, stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake, and get more exercise. All of this comes together with HRT to help the patient feel a lot more like their previous self. There have been side-effects reported with bioidentical hormones, so let’s cover these so you can know what has been reported even if these adverse reactions have been rare.
Risks with Bioidentical HRT
When talking about risks we are referring to those that may occur with FDA approved bioidentical hormones. There are some on the market made by specialist laboratories known as ‘compounded’ hormones. These are developed uniquely for the individual patient, and as such cannot be FDA approved. They are, however, legal to sell and many reports point to their success.
Rare adverse effects with FDA approved bioidentical hormones include:
- increase risk for blood clots
- gallbladder disease
- skin changes
- mood swings
- vision changes
- heart disease or breast cancer
Do not be put off by the above as these side-effects can be attributed to most medicines that we put into the body and are not common.
If you want to find out whether bioidentical hormone replacement is the answer for you, arrange a consultation and take things forward from there.