A Guide to Bioidentical Hormones
Typically facing onset in the early 50s, women in menopause experience reduced hormone levels, which leads to an array of symptoms that can affect quality of life. Ranging from mild to severe, these include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, poor concentration, and inadequate sleep. While medicines manufactured from horse urine have been used in the past to combat symptoms, studies have shown higher risks for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots with this type of hormone replacement therapy. For a more natural and animal-friendly alternative, many women are turning to bioidentical hormones, derived from plants like soy and wild yam.
Because plant-derived, bioidentical hormones are alike in molecular structure to the hormones produced naturally in a woman's body, they do not appear to come with the dangers attributed to conventional HRT. Many health professionals recommend estriol for restoring hormonal balance, which is the weakest of the three types of estrogen manufactured by a woman's body. Several studies show it to be equally effective ─ in comparison to the more potent forms of estrogen ─ in combatting uncomfortable menopause symptoms.
Research indicates that both estriol and natural progesterone may help offer a protective effect for a woman's body unlike non-bioidentical hormones. While several studies find that non-bioidentical progestins increase risks for breast cancer, research published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment shows that women who use bioidentical progesterone in combination with estrogen reduce their risks for breast cancer as compared to women who use non-bioidentical progestins.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that estriol offers significant improvement for hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal atrophy. Researchers separated 52 symptomatic, postmenopausal women into four groups, with each receiving 2 mg, 4 mg, 6 mg, or 8 mg of estriol daily over six months. All groups showed an improvement in symptoms after one month, and women receiving from 4-8 mg of daily estriol reported a change from severe to very mild symptoms.
Aging women should not have to endure uncomfortable symptoms resulting from reduced hormone levels. These studies and more show that the use of bioidentical hormones can help improve the quality of life for women in menopause and beyond. Along with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, women can enjoy a calm and comfortable life well into their golden years.