Hormone therapy helps beat the heat of menopause
Hormones are chemicals in your blood that play a role in many parts of your health. In women, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone affect when you get your period, how strong your bones are and the health of your skin.
As you age, your body makes less and less estrogen and progesterone. When your body stops making estrogen, you enter menopause. During menopause, you stop having your period. You also may experience hot flashes (you feel extremely warm, sweaty and are flushed for no reason), night sweats and vaginal dryness.
Hormone replacement therapy is the tried and true method to combat menopause symptoms. During hormone replacement therapy, you use pills, creams, implants or patches to replace hormones your body is no longer making.
What is bioidentical hormone therapy?
Because many women are concerned that hormone replacement therapy can lead to a higher risk for stroke or breast cancer, they try to find ways to stop menopause symptoms without taking conventional medicine. Some of these ways, such as eating soy and avoiding alcohol, can successfully stop symptoms like hot flashes and don’t have any risks.
However, these other non-conventional treatments aren’t effective as traditional hormone replacement therapy.
Bioidentical hormone medicines are made up of hormones created from chemicals in plants, but this doesn’t mean they are natural. The plant chemicals go through a long process to be identical to human hormones. In fact, many conventional hormone therapy medicines are created from the very same plants.
How are bioidentical hormones made?
Many bioidentical hormone medicines are custom made based on how many hormones you have in your spit. Though custom medicines appeal to many women, it may actually make bioidentical hormone medicines unreliable.
The amount of hormones in your spit changes depending on what you have eaten and the time of day. Therefore, this is not a concrete way to figure out how many hormones you need.
Bioidentical hormone pills or creams are mixed together at special pharmacies called compound pharmacies. Since they are custom-made, each pharmacist or pharmacy may make bioidentical hormone medicines differently each time.
This means that one day you may take a pill with a lot of estrogen while the next day you take a pill with less estrogen. Because you didn’t get enough estrogen, you may end up sweating your way through a hot flash. The bioidentical hormones may also be low dose, meaning they are not strong enough to stop symptoms.
Doctors do not agree that all women should have the same amount of hormones. How many hormones you need may be different than how many your friend or sister needs. So you shouldn’t set a goal to have a specific amount of hormones in your body. Instead, you should try to take the smallest dose of hormones possible to say goodbye to night sweats.
If you can’t stand the heat of another hot flash, talk to your doctor about which menopause treatments may help you.