It's incredible how the different systems in our bodies can communicate with one another, and it's all due to the important work of hormones.
Hormones are like messengers that travel through your bloodstream to different parts of your body, and they affect every single system, from immune to reproductive.
This important purpose is why it's very dangerous to have an imbalance of hormone levels.
Hormone imbalances can cause all sorts of uncomfortable and painful symptoms, from chronic fatigue to skin issues to weight gain.
This myriad of symptoms can make hormone imbalances difficult to diagnose.
If you're showing signs of hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be a beneficial treatment option for you.
Today, we're going to dive into what this therapy is and how it can help your hormone imbalance.
For more information, contact us here at Annex Naturopathic to learn more about bioidentical hormones for women's health.
In the meantime, let's start with the basics: what is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
What Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Everyone knows your body produces many different hormones in different amounts, and they are necessary for your body to function.
However, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Hormones control most of your body's basic functions.
They’re how your cells and internal systems communicate.
From your brain to your stomach to your immune system, hormones are responsible for their coordination and smooth operation.
So, when your hormone levels are out of whack, your health may be impacted in many different ways.
Hormone therapy has grown in popularity over the past few years for those who are experiencing imbalanced hormone levels.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, is a treatment that comes in a variety of forms including injections, topicals (creams, gels), or patches – whatever is best for you and your lifestyle.
This kind of therapy is used to help your body regulate its hormone levels to achieve balance and minimize the symptoms often associated with imbalanced hormones.
Let's look at the difference between traditional and bioidentical hormones, and what makes the latter form of hormones particularly effective.
Traditional Vs. Bioidentical Hormones
You may be wondering what “bioidentical” means, and how these hormones are different from others used in similar treatments.
Bioidentical hormones are created to be chemically identical to the hormones naturally produced by your body.
They are usually compounded from plant estrogens, as opposed to the synthetic hormones used in traditional hormone replacement therapy.
As for how these hormones differ in terms of effectiveness – this 2006 study compares the disparities between synthetic and bioidentical hormones, and finds the latter tend to be more effective in addressing menopausal symptoms.
In fact, it concludes that “there is currently sufficient evidence to support their preferred use over that of their synthetic cousins”.
BHRT was also found to be not only more effective but also safer, with a lower risk of side effects.
Benefits Of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Due to the important role hormone balance plays in your health, there are many potential benefits to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Let's look at a few of the most common uses for BHRT.
1. May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a relatively common bone disorder in those over 40 years of age.
In fact, Osteoporosis Canada states that at least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from a fracture due to osteoporosis during their lifetime.
This is why it’s so important to address your musculoskeletal health as early as possible, to prevent as much bone density loss as possible.
A healthy bone is filled with little pockets, akin to a honeycomb, and osteoporosis causes these tiny spaces to enlarge.
This results in weak, thin bones, which are prone to painful fractures.
Osteoporosis may be caused by age, menopause, or a thyroid condition such as hyperthyroidism.
Menopause can be particularly problematic because of fluctuating hormone levels that cause you to lose bone mass very quickly over a short period of time.
Estrogen replacement therapy is approved for osteoporosis prevention, so if you're over the age of 40 or experiencing menopause, this kind of hormone therapy may help ensure your bones stay strong and healthy.
Although there is no ideal treatment for osteoporosis, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has been shown to be effective in preventing bone loss and preventing fractures.
2. May Be Used As A Treatment For Fibromyalgia
For those suffering from fibromyalgia, you know firsthand how difficult it can be to find treatments that actually work.
Fibromyalgia is largely misunderstood, and we don't yet know exactly what causes it.
Part of this confusion stems from the wide variety of symptoms, including pain, sleep issues, memory loss, fatigue, and mood issues.
Something we do suspect about fibromyalgia is that it amplifies how your brain processes pain, which makes this disorder even more difficult to cope with.
Many individuals with fibro have turned to bioidential hormone replacement therapy for symptom relief, particularly for pain and fatigue.
Hormones such as progesterone have been used to minimize inflammation, which may affect your overall pain levels.
Your naturopath can work with you to formulate a specific treatment plan designed specifically for you and your body with the goal of lessening the uncomfortable symptoms of fibromyalgia.
3. May Help Reduce Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition that often flies under the radar for many years, due to its lack of noticeable symptoms.
When you're insulin resistant, the communication between the hormone insulin and the cells in your muscles and fat tissue fails.
This results in your cells leaving glucose in your bloodstream, rather than taking it and using it as fuel.
Signs of insulin resistance include high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and being overweight – but the surest way to know is to have your blood glucose levels regularly checked.
BHRT can be a powerful tool in your toolbox if you're dealing with insulin resistance, as it helps your body regulate hormone levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Hormone therapy, specifically estrogen therapy, has been proven to positively affect insulin resistance and balance your hormones.
4. May Reduce The Symptoms Of Menopause
If you're a woman over the age of 40, you may already be experiencing symptoms of perimenopause.
Menopause is obviously not something that can be cured, but its often uncomfortable symptoms can be eased with certain natural therapies.
BHRT is a great treatment option if you're experiencing menopause and looking for relief from symptoms such as hot flashes, chills, sleep issues, mood changes, weight gain, vaginal dryness or discomfort, or thinning hair.
Regulating and balancing your hormone levels can have a big impact on your health, especially during a time when your body is drastically changing its production of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help ease your transition into this new period of your life, through menopause and beyond.
Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Right For You?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a natural treatment option with a variety of different benefits, especially if you're suffering from a condition that impacts your body's hormone production.
When your hormones are imbalanced, you will feel the repercussions in numerous ways, from your brain to your musculoskeletal, immune, and reproductive systems.
For more information on if BHRT is right for you, contact Annex Naturopathic today.
Our experienced naturopathic doctors would love to talk to you about your specific health concerns, and formulate a specific plan for you and your health.
We can show you how bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be an easy and effective part of your lifestyle.
Contact us at Annex Naturopathic – we can help.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND
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