5 Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy During Menopause
DECEMBER 2022 | Dr. Ashley Southern
There isn’t a single system within the human body that in not impacted by hormones; they impact practically everything: from the way we eat, sleep, and even our brain’s ability to communicate to our vital organs. It’s no surprise that as we age our endocrine system falls short at producing enough of them, and the list of impacts that low hormone levels have on our health is extensive. For women, the impact of menopause alone can impact anything from sex drive, mood, overall anatomical strength due to muscle and bone loss, and even risk of developing certain cancers.
It’s important to remember that aging is a natural and beautiful part of being human. And while we cannot stop or reverse it, there are options that can help slow it, prevent the adverse effects of it, and improve quality of life, ultimately make aging an enjoyable journey worth embracing.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, is one such option. Bioidentical hormones are naturally occurring and exactly identical to our body’s hormones – when we add these back to our system that is lacking, we obtain the optimal functionality of our much younger self. Bioidentical hormones are different than synthetic hormones and are considered safer due to their organic structure. Research shows that BHRT is especially effective for perimenopausal or menopausal women because it works to rebalance and improve the hormonal changes linked to this inevitable phase of life. In men, it helps to counteract the unwanted effects of low testosterone due to age. As an added bonus, they come with a long list of other benefits that help to counteract the affects of aging.
Here are five reasons BHRT is a very effective menopause treatment that can help improve the quality of life in women experiencing hormone issues due to premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause:
1. Molecular Mimicry
Bioidentical hormones have identical chemical and molecular structures as the hormones naturally produced by the body’s endocrine system—the primary system within our bodies responsible for producing and releasing hormones. Bioidentical hormones are typically derived from soy plants or yams because these sources mimic the exact molecular structure of our own. As a result, our bodies can’t tell the difference between the hormones it naturally produces and bioidentical hormones, which allows the body to accept, absorb and process them in stride. This “molecular mimicry” helps to mitigate some of the risks associated with alternative forms of synthetic hormone replacement therapies, making it a safe and efficient treatment for supporting menopause symptoms.
2. Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms
Common symptoms of menopause include (but are not limited to):
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood fluctuations
- Decreased sexual drive, pain with sex
- Vaginal dryness
- Brain fog, difficulty focusing
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of bone density
The root of of these symptoms lies in the decreased production of hormones that naturally occurs with menopause or perimenopause. Supplementing these hormonal deficiencies with bioidentical hormone replacement treatments can help to rebalance the endocrine system. Improving estrogen levels also has added benefits of increasing energy, stabilizing mood, increasing bone density, improving muscle strength and tone, and enhancing memory. Due to its long list of benefits, BHRT has proven to be an effective means of supporting and improving these symptoms in women, regardless of whether they are pre, peri, or post menopausal.
3. Improves Sleep
The hormonal imbalances and deficiencies that come with menopause can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep patterns, often resulting in insomnia. Ironically, insomnia can also cause hormonal imbalances. These hormonal imbalances can lead to vasomotor symptoms commonly associated with menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, and rapid heartbeat. These symptoms also happen to be amongst the leading causes of insomnia in perimenopausal women (Primary Care Simplified, 2022). This all creates a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle that can be difficult to reset without assistance. Studies show that by rebalancing hormone levels, BHRT can help hit the reset button, recalibrate the parasympathetic nervous system, and lead to better sleep.
4. Improves Hair, Nail, and Skin Health
BHRT can help to boost the health and function of the “integumentary system”, the part of the body that manages our outermost bits including skin, hair, nails and glands.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are key hormones that impact hair growth, nail strength, and skin health. During menopause and perimenopause, production of both these hormones drastically decreases. Low or imbalanced levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can cause:
- Hair loss
- Slow or no hair growth
- Thinning hair, eyebrows
- Sparse eyelashes
- Brittle, cracked nails
- Nail ridges
- Dry skin
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Eye circles
Estrogen and progesterone work to keep your hair in the anagen (growing) phase. Testosterone also plays a part, affecting hair follicles and hair strength – an imbalance of testosterone can lead to thinner, more brittle hair. Studies have shown that improving estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormone levels through BHRT can lead to noticeably healthier/ stronger hair, noticeable hair growth in thinning areas, decreased hair loss, stronger nails, and more youthful-looking skin.
5. Improves Libido and Sex Life
Common symptoms of menopause often include vaginal dryness, clitoral atrophy, painful sex, chronic fatigue, and decreased sex drive. Studies show that 30-70% of perimenopausal and menopausal women experience a decline in libido; this is a result of deficient sex hormone levels, most notably testosterone. Women make testosterone more than any other hormone in their lifetime, and BHRT can help to replenish these levels. A recent study in BHRT showed that women receiving just estrogen-progesterone combination reported a 35% increase in sexual thoughts, and an overall 44% increase interest in sex (Khamsi, 2007). Further, by improving estrogen levels, BHRT can alleviate vaginal dryness and help make sex more pleasurable again.
Studies show BHRT is also sexually beneficial for men. Men age 30-70 will lose 1-10% of their total testosterone production every year (Gary, 1991). Low testosterone levels can significantly decrease sex drive, impact performance, but also increase the risk of prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and many more chronic diseases. To learn more about BHRT in men, click here.
Don’t let the effects of aging impact your hormones – Book now to schedule a visit with our hormone doctors to begin feeling your best again!
Gray, A., Feldman, H. A., McKinlay, J. B., & Longcope, C. (1991). Age, disease, and changing sex hormone levels in middle-aged men: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 73(5), 1016–1025. https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem-73-5-1016
Khamsi, R. (2007). HRT Boosts Women’s Sexual Interest. Retrieved from New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12684-hrt-boosts-womens-sexual-interest/
Primary Care Simplified. (2022). Hormones and Insomnia: How BHRT Can Help. Retrieved from Primary Care Simplified: https://primarycaresimplified.com/hormones-and-insomnia-how-bhrt-can-help/