Menopause is a natural stage of life, but it’s not always comfortable. Or healthy. When your body reduces the production of hormones like progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, almost every organ and system is affected.
As you approach menopause in your 40s, you go through a stage called perimenopause, when you might begin to experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
These symptoms may include:
You’ve heard that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) alleviates those symptoms. But you remember the early days of HRT, when doctors stopped prescribing it because of supposed increased risks in stroke, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Not only has HRT evolved since those early days, but attitudes toward HRT and the way it’s produced have evolved, too. Today’s HRT is now bioidentical — which means its molecules are structurally almost identical to your own hormones. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) also protects you from disease, rather than raises your risk for it.
Dr. Rafiq Mian and our team at Mian OB/GYN & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, offer BHRT to women in perimenopause or menopause. Here’s what makes BHRT not only safer than earlier forms of HRT, but safer than not replacing hormones at all.
One of the reasons that early studies on HRT were flawed was that they failed to account for the increased risk of disease that older women already have. Many of the women enrolled in HRT studies were also in poor health and had conditions such as obesity or diabetes that raised their risk for stroke and cancer.
Menopause itself also increases health risks. Without adequate levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, you’re more vulnerable to age-related diseases, including:
The American College of Physicians has even developed guidelines for using HRT as a preventive therapy to help women age more comfortably and healthily.
The original HRT was synthesized from the urine of female horses (mares). The chemical structure of the hormones differed from those of a human female’s hormones.
In contrast, BHRT is synthesized from plants, such as yams, that are naturally rich in estrogens that are very close to human estrogens. Although the hormones are modified in a lab, the end result is that the structure of the chemicals that compose the hormones are nearly identical to those in your own hormones.
When you’re on BHRT, the synthesized hormones interact with your body as if they were naturally yours, too. That means you won’t have side effects from your BHRT.
At Mian OB/GYN & Associates, we prescribe FDA-approved BHRT pellets that we insert in a fleshy part of your body, such as your upper arm or your hip. Anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months after you start your BHRT, your hormones regulate and you start to feel as healthy and vibrant as you did years ago.
Some benefits include:
When you’re on BHRT, you’re also protected from the bone-mineral loss that causes osteopenia and osteoporosis. The sooner you start BHRT, however, the better it is for your health. The most benefits are seen in women who are under age 60 or no more than 10 years past menopause.
Not everyone benefits from BHRT, though. If you’re prone to blood clots, have a history of breast or ovarian cancer, or have certain other medical conditions, we may need to find another way to help you deal with menopause symptoms.
Find out if you’re a candidate for relief from menopause symptoms and protection against age-related diseases by contacting us for a BHRT evaluation today. Call us or use our online booking form.