We age because of our DNA and lifestyle and because our hormone levels decline. Bioidentical hormones may help to restore and maintain optimal health and hormone balance.
I am surprised how few women (and men) know about the latest thinking and available treatments in relation to hormone balance. Women can benefit from hormone balancing as early as the teens and the benefits continue well into the 70’s.
Hormones are chemical messengers that circulate in the bloodstream and affect the function of every organ in our body. There are moment to moment fluctuations in hormones, as well as minute to minute, day to day, seasonal and then major life events such as puberty, pregnancy, adulthood, and the menopause. There is a drop in hormone levels as both men and women age and as the levels decline we lose our energy, strength and vitality. Lifestyle and stress also boost or reduce the hormone balance.
Click here to download a full information pack on Bioidentical Hormones or click below to see answers to the most frequently asked questions.
+ Bioidentical Hormone Replacment Therapy - The facts
What are Bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are identical to the hormones that the ovaries, thyroid and adrenal glands have secreted into your bloodstream for decades. They are produced from plants, usually yam or soya, in the laboratory. The human body has had millions of years to adapt to metabolising and processing Bioidentical hormones, they are part of our normal physiology. The hormones are usually used as creams or lozenges but some can be taken by mouth or vaginally.
What is BHRT?
BHRT is treatment using Bioidentical hormones to replace or balance hormonal deficiencies. Conventional HRT (hormone replacement therapy) may include some Bioidentical hormones but with most HRT the pharmaceutical companies have altered the hormones. Bioidentical hormones in BHRT may facilitate health and balance with minimum side-effects.
Why did the pharmaceutical companies alter the hormones?
By altering the molecular structure of the hormones so they are different to those that occur naturally in the body, manufacturers of conventional HRT treatments have successfully patented their treatments. Premarin has become one of the biggest selling drugs in the world. These foreign molecules have been shown to cause a large number of side effects and increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and thrombosis in the veins.
With BHRT, no one owns Bioidentical hormones and so they cannot be patented. The human body processes bio-identical hormones as if they were its own. They can be better tolerated and have few side effects when taken in the correct dose.
Why might you need BHRT?
Hormones are essential for the normal functioning of your body. If the amount produced drops or the balance between the various hormones alters, the body does not function well. With the advent of Bioidentical hormones it is often possible to replenish and balance the body hormones. This has major physical and psychological health benefits.
How will I know if I need them or not?
A full medical and family history provides the background to assess whether you need hormone treatment or not, and what balance is optimal for you. The focus is on symptoms, backed up by a physical examination and tests, particularly hormone levels in the blood.
How do I take them?
Most bioidentical hormones are broken down in the stomach. The optimal way to take them is using creams which are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream or lozenge placed under the gum for absorption. Absorption from the lozenge is different than with the creams. Some BHRT progesterone can be taken as a pill by mouth. BHRT oestrogens can also be taken as vaginal tablets and creams.
How do I monitor them?
A full medical history provides the background to assess whether hormone treatment is needed, and what balance is optimal for each person. With hormone treatment the accent is on symptoms, backed up by a physical examination and tests, particularly hormone levels in the blood. The blood levels help to fine tune the hormone doses for each person.
Every man and woman is unique and BHRT supplementation is formulated to each person’s individual needs. Following a consultation and review of the blood hormone levels I will suggest a program of either creams or lozenge, occasionally tablets.
You will need an initial consultation and a follow-up appointment, sometimes after a blood test, to assess the efficacy of the BHRT. You may then require check-ups every two or three months in the first year. Blood tests are useful to check the hormone levels and ensure that you are having the optimal dosage. After that checks are less frequent unless your symptoms change.
Individualised treatment and costs
The creams and lozenge are compounded by a compounding pharmacy of your choice. This enables a prescription to be made to suit your needs. The constituent hormones will then be changed according to your symptoms or the test results, particularly blood levels. Some BHRT hormones are also available on the NHS.
The average cost of using a cream or lozenge over the three months varies on the doses and number of times the lozenges or creams are used each day. In relative terms each dose of cream or lozenge is less than the price of a cappuccino.
A Consultants View
I am enthusiastic about this development as many of my patients, (including myself), have benefited from bioidentical hormones for symptoms that we tend to laugh about as ‘signs of getting older’ but which make us miserable! Younger women also benefit if their hormones are out of balance. Since prescribing BHRT I have been surprised at how many women use them easily and compliance is simple for the majority of women. For some women they are life changing.
BHRT, nutrition and exercise
Nutrition is one of the cornerstones of health and the benefits of BHRT can be enhanced by healthy eating. Changes in eating pattern and lifestyle, often combined with supplements of vitamins and minerals, Omega three essential fatty acids and vitamin D3, can have a remarkable effect. Supplements and healthy eating may also reduce the risk of cancer.
Optimal aerobic and anaerobic exercise also enhances the effect of the hormones.
BHRT and emotions
Deep-seated emotional and lifestyle issues can have a major effect on natural hormone production by the body. On the other hand balancing the hormones can change emotions and feelings resulting in reduced irritability, anxiety, improved sleep and more peace.
There are a variety of traditional and newer techniques to help emotional balance. The negative effects of issues relating to very early childhood or traumatic events during life can be modulated and modified. Emotional balance can have a major role in improving the success of BHRT and reducing the doses of the hormones.
BHRT, energy and well-being
Hormone balancing and attention to nutrition and emotions are powerful ways to improve energy during the day, improve sleep and create an overall sense of well-being.
It may help age-related conditions such as:
- hot flushes
- dry or wrinkled skin
- low energy
- memory loss and cognition
- low libido
- panic attacks
- irritability, mood swings or depression
- headache and migraine
- urinary and vaginal discomfort and infection
- discomfort with sex
Medically recognisable conditions may improve, such as:
- pre-menstrual syndrome PMS
- dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia and irregular periods
- bone loss and osteoporosis
- loss of muscle mass and power
- weight gain
- skin changes
- mood changes
These are changes uncommon with BHRT and for most women the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
BHRT is generally not recommended for patients who have a medical history that includes:
- heart attack and stroke
- deep vein thrombosis
- hormonally dependent cancers.
BHRT appears to be much safer than conventional HRT, but this remains to be proven because there is less research information available for BHRT.
BHRT does not have the same dangers of heart attack/stroke and thrombosis as conventional HRT. In many instances the hormones increase HDL, the good cholesterol, dilate the blood vessels, and reduce blood clotting thereby possibly even reducing cardiovascular risk.
Breast cancer risk is mainly related to the use of progestin (altered progesterone in conventional HRT). To date the exact risk of BHRT and breast cancer has not been accurately quantified but is probably lower. Biest, a BHRT, is a combination of oestradiol and oestriol and is thought to further reduce the risks of breast cancer.
For more information about Bioidentical hormones and BHRT please contact