The Basics of Hormone Replacement Therapy: Could It Be The Right Fit For You?

Millions of women and men rely on hormone replacement therapy to help balance their hormones and manage a variety of problematic symptoms. From Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and premature ovarian failure to menopausal changes and low testosterone, hormone replacement therapy can be instrumental in correcting hormonal insufficiencies, helping these individuals on their path to optimal health.

When it comes to choosing a hormone replacement therapy there are two main options: traditional and bio-identical. Traditional hormones are produced from hormones obtained from pregnant horse urine and can contain allergic ingredients such as peanut oil. These medications come in oral and topical formulations and are available in select doses. Bio-Identical hormones are synthesized from plant-based sources (yams and soy) to have the same chemical structure as the hormones produced by the body. This process allows bio-identical hormones to carry out the same processes within the body as the natural hormones we produce. Bio-identical hormones come in several different varieties such as pills, creams, gels, pellets, patches, lozenges, and injectables, which allow for more individualized treatment options.

Who can benefit from Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Anyone suffering form a hormone imbalance would be a good candidate for BHRT. Common symptoms of hormone imbalance include:

  • hot flashes/night sweats
  • abnormal weight gain/inability to lose weight (especially in the mid section)
  • mood changes - anxiety and/or depression
  • difficulty sleeping
  • brain fog/memory loss
  • decreased sex drive
  • vaginal dryness
  • painful intercourse
  • urinary changes
  • brittle hair and nails/hair loss

Although this therapy is safe and effective for many people, BHRT is not meant for everyone. As with any treatment, there are risks associated with taking BHRT. You should not start BHRT if you have a personal history or significant family history of a hormone sensitive cancer (breast, ovarian, uterine, or prostate), blood clotting disorders, liver disease, or cardiovascular disease (stroke, heart attack). These risks can also depend on the type of hormone therapy being administered, the dose and the duration of therapy. For safe and effective results, hormone treatment should be tailored to each individual and re-evaluated over time to make sure the benefits outweigh the risks of therapy.

Kim Hansen, ND

Dr. Hansen practices general primary care naturopathic medicine and provides her patients with personalized healthcare using a mix of herbal and conventional modalities.