hormones

What Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?

Bioidentical hormone therapy is a medical treatment for low hormone levels, usually the sex hormones. Both men and women can suffer low hormone levels, especially with andropause and menopause.

Bioidentical hormones are usually manufactured from plants (soy or yams). The chemicals are altered so that they are chemically identical to natural human hormones.

Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, have a slightly different chemistry.

Andropause

Most people are familiar with menopause, but not everybody is aware that men suffer a similar age-related decline in hormone levels. After about age 40, most men experience a slow decline in the amount of testosterone they produce. This produces symptoms of andropause: weakness, lose of strength and muscle mass, decreased libido, sexual dysfunctions and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Most men are unaware that their symptoms could be from low hormone levels. Others are reluctant to take hormone supplements because of the dangers of synthetic anabolic steroids like testosterone.

Bioidentical testosterone is chemically identical to human testosterone, and does not carry the same risks as anabolic steroids. Bioidentical hormone therapy with testosterone lozenges or gel may be a good way to relieve the symptoms of andropause.

Menopause

Hormone replacement therapy for menopause was common until a few years ago when the Womenís Health Initiative study on hormone replacement demonstrated that HRT increased the risk of heart attack. Since then, both physicians and women in menopause have been looking for a way to relieve the distressing symptoms some women experience.

Bioidentical hormone therapy is one alternative that some people have embraced. Estradiol, progesterone and estriol are all female sex hormones that are available in bioidentical formulas. The hormones are often compounded in a unique formula that matches an individual womanís hormone needs.

It is not known at this time if bioidentical hormone therapy is safer than therapy with synthetic hormones. Many people believe they are safer because they match our bodiesí natural chemistry, and synthetic hormones do not. This has not been proven, however.

The question of hormone replacement therapy is a complex one with several variables that need to be considered. Itís important to consider how severe the womanís menopausal symptoms are, and the benefit she would get from bioidentical hormone therapy. Itís also important to consider the risk hormone therapy would present. If the woman has had breast cancer or has heart disease, the risk of hormone therapy of any kind might outweigh the benefits.

Because this is a complex question, each woman should learn as much as she can about menopause and hormone therapies, including bioidentical hormone therapy. She should be thoroughly familiar with both the risks and benefits to her as an individual. Then, with the help and advice of her physician, she can make a thoughtful, informed decision about how to manage menopause.

Declining hormone levels due to aging can cause severe symptoms for some men and women. Bioidentical hormone therapy is one option for managing them.


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