If good health were sold in a pill, it would fly off the shelves. People would wait in long lines, elbowing those who tried to cut in, anxiously hoping to get their hands on some well-being. While science hasn’t yet figured out how to make good health itself a supermarket good, there are tangible items that can help produce it. One of these is bioidentical hormones.
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Per the Harvard Medical School, Bioidentical hormones are manufactured hormones sometimes prescribed by your doctor. They are made of compounds found in plants (such as soy beans and wild yams). They behave the same way as do hormones naturally produced by the body (hence the term “bioidentical”). They are often used in natural hormone therapy, recommended when a person has a hormone imbalance (due to menopause or for other reasons).
Are Bioidentical Hormones Better than Other Types of Hormone Therapy?
Bioidentical hormones are custom-mixed to mirror the hormones produced by each individual. This may help the body adjust better to the hormones and metabolize them more efficiently.
Who Should Consider Taking Bioidentical Hormones?
According to the Mayo Clinic, hormone therapy is typically recommended for women experiencing symptoms of menopause or pre-menopause. These symptoms may include moderate or severe hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, irregular periods, disturbed sleep patterns, loss of hair, dry skin and mood changes.
Bioidentical therapy may also be recommended for those who have lost bone mass, stopped menstruating (particularly before the age of 40) or have lost normal function of their ovaries at an early age (such as from ovarian cancer).
Are There Risks to Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Like many types of medication, hormone therapy has its risks. Some minor side effects include nausea, vomiting and breast pain. Among the more serious side effects are blood clots, which make hormone therapy not suitable for those with a personal or familiar history of deep vein thrombosis or certain clotting disorders. However, for most people, the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks.
But for certain qualified candidates, not taking hormone therapy can be risky. Per the Mayo Clinic, women who undergo menopause at an early age, as well as those who have had their ovaries removed, are at higher risk of several diseases if they don’t undergo hormone therapy. These diseases can include coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, parkinsonism (which produces symptoms that can mirror Parkinson’s), premature death, dementia, problems with sexual dysfunction and anxiety or depression.
What are the Benefits to Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
As mentioned above, hormone therapy can help decrease a woman’s risk of developing several diseases. Of particular importance is heart disease: because it is the nation’s number-one killer, reducing its odds can greatly increase a lifespan. Studies have suggested that hormone therapy can decrease the risk of heart disease when taken early during the menopausal years. A study performed in Denmark found that women who took hormone therapy for 10 years had a drastically reduced rate of heart disease and heart attack. These benefits, according to the study, came without any obvious increase in the risks of cancers or stroke.
While bioidentical hormone therapy may not be for everyone, it can certainly prove beneficial to many. If you are curious about whether it may be right for you, be sure to talk with your doctor.
Diana Gooden is a health and fitness blogger. In addition to pursuing bioidentical hormones, she recently consulted with the spine experts at www.gulfcoastspinecare.com/spinal-stenosis to help alleviate her back pain.