Bioidentical Hormones and Synthetic Hormones: What Are the Real Health Risks?

HRT Prescriptions 2001 - 2005

HRT Prescriptions 2001 - 2005Before 2002, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was widely prescribed for women near menopause, then after 2002, HRT sharply decreased. Do you wonder why this happened, and what we’ve learned since then?

In the 1990s, doctors began to prescribe hormones to women experiencing normal menopause. Estrogen and progestin were used together to relieve menopausal symptoms, and to protect against disease.

Most often HRT was routinely prescribed for women between 45 and 55, dealing with hot flashes, painful intercourse, irregular moods, and low libido. It was also used to help women with early menopause.

Then important findings in 2002 showed that HRT medications were linked to increased health risks to women. The study was designed to find whether the risk of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and other health concerns was reduced by hormone therapy. HRT was largely stopped when researchers came to believe the risks outweighed the benefits.

Now you may be confused about whether or not hormone therapy is a good idea for you. Understanding your options and educating yourself are important first steps to deciding what’s best for your health.

Synthetic Vs Bioidentical Hormones

In more recent years, researchers learned that the chemical structure of hormones used to treat women matters a great deal to their health and safety. Before 2002, hormones used were usually synthetic, derived from animals. The body processed these differently than human hormones, with results that increased the incidence of disease.

Now, researchers have developed hormone formulas that copy human hormones exactly. The body responds to these bioidentical hormones just like those it makes naturally. Benefits include relief from hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and discomfort during intercourse. Some research shows that bioidentical hormone treatment may reduce heart disease risk if begun early in menopause.

Studies find that a careful use of bio-identical hormones can lower discomfort and risk of developing some serious health conditions, while making the side-effects of menopause easier to manage.

Rebalancing With and Without HRT

While the symptoms of menopause may be common, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. When your body’s usual balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone changes, you may experience very familiar symptoms. But re-balancing them requires careful adjustments that work for your unique body chemistry and metabolism.

Hormone replacement is not your only defense. Nutritional supplements and smart food choices can provide beneficial oils and herbs that relieve symptoms. Stress management and exercise can also be good choices to boost relief.

If you are considering HRT to benefit your health, talk with your doctor. Managing your symptoms safely and effectively requires a detailed health assessment and a treatment plan.

Dr. Betty Keller keeps up-to-date on the latest findings to help you develop a plan for optimal health.

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