Many women begin experiencing menopause around their early to mid 40s. During this time, the change in hormones can cause many disrupting symptoms. For some women,bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the answer.
What is Bioidentical or "Natural" Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, refers to hormones that are derived from plants or animals that are synthesized to mimic the molecular structure of hormones naturally produced in the female body. BHRT also refers to medicinal compounds that are customized by a pharmacist for a patient, but it is not limited to this.
Sudden flashes of heat that occur in the upper portion of your body or all over are considered hot flashes. Many women experience them due to hormonal changes up two years or longer after the initial onset of menopause. Hot flashes can be triggered by wearing tight clothing, drinking alcohol and/or caffeine, among other things. If you find that hot flashes are significantly disrupting your life, you can speak with your doctor about the potential benefits of hormonal therapy.
Vaginal Dryness or Painful Intercourse
In addition to lowered sex drive, the loss of progesterone and estrogen can negatively effect the vagina's moisture level. this can cause irritation to the vagina and cause sex to become painful increasing the risk of bleeding from friction. Using a water-based lubricant can help to this end, but if discomfort persists, you should speak with your doctor about your options.
Frequent Urination and Urinary Tract Infections
The decreased hormone production can also be responsible for frequent urination and incontinence which occurs with the thinning of the tissues of the urethra and bladder. Also, it is the culprit for the urethra becoming more prone to infections. You can practice Kegel to help with incontinence or frequent urination, while drinking more water can help with urinary tract infections.
Concerns About Hormone Therapy
While some women claim to have found relief from hormone therapy, many health professionals have concerns after a study found that the elevated levels of estrogen increased a woman's risk for breast cancer, blood clots, and heart disease. Some believe that BHRT is a safer alternative to government approved therapies because it is natural although not approved by the FDA. However, the FDA is vehement that there is no evidence to prove that BHRT is safer or more harmful than their synthetic cousins.
Navigating the waters of menopause can be overwhelming but it is important to remember you are experiencing only what millions of other women have experienced before you and will experience after you. While seeking treatment for this natural phase, it is important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best way to treat your symptoms. You may find that, when combined with other methods of management, bioidentical hormone replacement can make your experience with menopause more enjoyable.