What to Know About Natural Hormone Replacement
Menopause is a natural phase women go through as we age. Here’s what you should know about this process and your natural hormone replacement options.
A woman’s hormone levels fluctuate significantly during different phases of her life. In addition to the hormone changes that occur every month as part of the female menstrual cycle, there are bigger changes that occur when a woman approaches and goes through menopause.
Menopause is a normal part of life for women. It typically begins between the ages of 35 and 55. During this stage of life, the body changes in various ways. The ovaries slow down the production of progesterone and estrogen, which is why the menstrual cycle stops during menopause. While the lack of a period is arguably one of the more pleasant menopausal symptoms you can experience, it does mark the end of fertility and the depletion of your body’s eggs.
If you’re approaching perimenopause (the 3–5 year period before you officially go through menopause), you may start experiencing changes in your hormone levels that can cause vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and other unpleasant symptoms. When this happens, it’s normal to consider whether hormone therapy is the right course of action to take.
Here are a few things you should know about hormone replacement therapy, the difference between bioidentical hormone therapy and synthetic hormone therapy, and how Hertime can help you balance your hormone levels naturally.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is the process of using hormones to treat menopause symptoms in menopausal or postmenopausal women. Traditional hormone replacement therapy focuses on providing your body with estrogen or progesterone since it no longer produces these hormones after menopause.
Hormone therapy is commonly used to help reduce symptoms associated with menopause. It may also minimize the risk of osteoporosis by protecting bone density. But HRT doesn’t come without its risks and side effects. Before committing to estrogen therapy before, during, or after menopause, it’s important to learn more about the potential risks associated with this treatment.
Why Should You Choose Natural Replacement Hormone Therapy?
There are two primary types of hormone therapy: synthetic and bioidentical (also known as natural hormone replacement). Most people think it is best to choose natural replacement hormone therapy over synthetic types.
Bioidentical hormones have a chemical structure that’s identical to the estrogen and progesterone produced naturally in your body. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are not identical to the body’s natural hormones. Synthetic hormones commonly come from the urine of pregnant mares (in the form of conjugated equine estrogen) or are produced in a lab, while bioidentical hormones are made from plant-based estrogens.
There are a variety of problems associated with synthetic hormones, which is why they may not be the best choice for treating a hormone imbalance. Some of the side effects associated with taking synthetic hormones include:
- Breast tenderness
- High blood pressure
- Leg cramps
- Estrogen dominance
- Headaches and migraines
- Heavy menstrual bleeding and cramps
- Gall bladder disease
- Eye problems
- Increased blood clotting
- Glucose intolerance
- Increased endometrial cancer and breast cancer risk
- Growth of body and facial hair with simultaneous loss of scalp hair
These are just a few of the side effects of taking synthetic progestin and other synthetic hormones. Menopausal women who take synthetic estriol or progestin may experience some or all of these symptoms at some point.
Bioidentical/natural hormone replacements may not be associated with as many potential side effects. Since bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are identical to the ones the female body naturally produces, they may be handled a bit better by the body.
What Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical HRT often comes in the form of progesterone cream or bioidentical compounded estrogen preparations. Compounded hormones are said to be safer than traditional menopausal hormone therapy, but there is no reliable data to prove this claim.
We have already discussed why bioidentical HRT is preferred by many women over synthetic HRT. But that doesn’t mean it has no associated risks. While HRT is proven to relieve severe menopausal symptoms associated with hormone deficiency (specifically estrogen and progesterone), it is still risky for some women.
Women with a family history of breast cancer, in particular, should be wary about taking human hormones or compounded bioidentical hormones. According to the FDA, there is no proof that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is more effective than traditional hormone therapy or that it is even safe. For these reasons, many women look for HRT alternatives when they start to experience hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
When Do You Need Replacement Hormones?
Many women ask their doctors about compounded hormone therapy or natural hormone replacement therapy when they start to approach the normal years of menopause or when they actively experience symptoms of menopause. Symptoms associated with unbalanced hormones in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause include:
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Decreased sex drive
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Sweaty skin
- Digestive problems
- Hot flashes
- Acne and other skin issues
- Extreme fatigue
A natural hormone replacement may help relieve low progesterone symptoms, but at what cost? With continued use, any estrogen or progesterone replacement can increase the risk of breast cancer and other serious health issues. That’s why it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks before deciding whether or not to use natural hormone replacements.
Some women receive menopausal hormone therapy to reduce their risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which can occur after menopause. Endometrial hyperplasia is when the uterine lining grows too much. Though the condition itself isn’t considered cancerous, it can potentially lead to uterine cancer. Endometrial hyperplasia develops in some women when their bodies no longer make the hormone progesterone.
How Can You Naturally Balance Hormones?
We understand that some women may decide to take HRT during and after menopause, and that’s OK! We encourage women to do whatever they think is necessary to protect their health, under the guidance of their doctors.
But we also understand that some women may want safer and more natural ways to balance their hormones during this phase of life and beyond. Here are some lifestyle measures you can take to reduce some of your menopausal symptoms without relying on HRT:
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing at night to help you stay cool and minimize the effect of hot flashes.
- Give up smoking if you currently smoke. This will reduce your risk of dangerous health conditions (such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke). It will also reduce hot flashes.
- Exercise regularly. This will not only help to keep your hormones balanced and your mood level, but it will also help keep your bones strong and reduce your likelihood of osteoporosis.
- Use a vaginal lubricant if you have vaginal dryness as a result of low estrogen.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your bones strong and to control your weight as your hormones change.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, as they are both known to trigger hot flashes.
- Take a hormone-balancing supplement to minimize your menopausal symptoms. Hertime is a great option because it contains ingredients known to support healthy hormone changes. With regular use, this product can minimize cramps, bloating, skin issues, and other problems associated with hormone deficiencies or imbalances.
When you get your hormones under control, everything else in life seems more manageable. To learn more about supporting healthy hormone balance in menopause and every other stage of your life, take some time to browse through Mixhers resources. With a quick search, you can find topics you’re interested in learning more about so you can understand your body better and improve your quality of life.