Bioidentical Estrogen Natural Hormone Therapy
Bioidentical Estrogen is one of the most common treatment options chosen within the BHRT lineup. In fact natural estrogen replacement is a frequently pursued approach in general. Estrogen is actually a general term that can be used to describe any number of related hormones including estradiol, estrone and estriol. This particular hormone, and the problems it causes when it is out of balance such as when it declines with age, is also the most common hormone that is pursued with traditional hormone therapy. It is very important to note that while women most commonly seek bioidentical estrogen for natural estrogen replacement therapy, this hormone is also produced by men and can also cause problems for them. While bioidentical estrogen is most commonly used for women experiencing symptoms of menopause, it has other uses as well, some that are not well-known or less common. Our goal here is to provide a well-rounded look at natural estrogen replacement including its full range of uses.
As we’ve said in many places, this website cannot accurately diagnose your hormonal issue or suggest a perfect treatment for you. It is vital that you see your regular doctor and also see a reputable and experienced BHRT practitioner to know whether this treatment would benefit you. Bioidentical estrogen used in natural estrogen replacement is only as good as the assessment and the doctor.
The role of Natural Estrogen:
Estrogen is most responsible for causing the growth and development of the organs required for reproduction and infant nourishment. Thus this hormone first begins to play a significant role in adolescence. In young men estrogen helps guide some of the physical changes they experience such as muscle development and body hair growth. This hormone is not just involved with the reproductive system, as among other things it regulates metabolism and stimulates bone growth. As we age we need less of this hormone for obvious reasons so people naturally experience a decline. This would not necessarily be a bad thing, given that when we are older the proper functioning and development of reproductive organs is no longer a necessity. In fact, the decline in this hormone would be itself not be such a bad thing if it did not cause so many secondary symptoms that we describe below.
As important as estrogen is in development and certain areas of functioning, it also leads to secondary effects, most of which are quite positive when we are younger. It is not always the main effects of this hormone, then, that we miss when we age and this hormone level shrinks, but instead those secondary effects are what we come to want back. It is likely no surprise that each person has a different reaction to the lowering of this hormone, given that we are talking about something quite complex.
Bioidentical Estrogen for symptom relief:
The most common reason people turn to bioidentical estrogen products is for symptoms of menopause. This is no surprise, given all of the above, since the decline of any hormone tends to produce secondary effects. As it naturally declines men and women can experience osteoporosis decreased libido and certain mood changes. This is in some cases simply the reverse of what this hormone did in a positive way earlier. One way or another natural hormones can help reverse this process and reduce these symptoms.As mentioned above, some of the direct symptoms of menopause, such as lower functioning of the reproductive organs, would not be so problematic by themselves. However, the secondary symptoms, such as hot flashes (experienced by up to two-thirds of women at some point), mood changes, and insomnia. These symptoms are often relieved through the use of natural estrogen replacement therapy. Often a very low dose is all that is needed.
There are other times that bioidentical estrogen can be quite helpful, and that basically includes any time that this hormone is too low, even starting in adolescence. When a doctor perceives that either a boy or a girl seems to be low in this hormone, she or he may prescribe a low dose to help keep symptoms at bay. The doctor must be careful at younger ages, however, because too much of this hormone can cause problems, so transient dips or low levels that are merely delays have to be approached with caution.
Natural Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical estrogen can be administered orally, but often the proffered means of administration is transdermally or intravaginally. In fact, the slow release paths can allow for sustained release of the dose needed for up to a week. Without getting into the complex medical terminology, we can basically say that natural estrogen replacement cream for transdermal administration is more effective and easier to control as far as dose in addition to being long-lasting. There are also some studies that suggest that natural estrogen replacement cream administration cuts down on certain long-term side effects. That said, transdermal administration of natural estrogen replacement cream cannot be used with some ingredients and oral supplementation has been used quite effectively.
The side effects of transdermal bioidentical estrogen administration include skin rashes. In some cases it is actually the adhesive used to keep the patches on rather than the actual medication that causes those reactions, so a different type of skin gel can sometimes be used instead. Bioidentical estrogen gels are just as effective as skin patches, though they do not last as long. Gels may actually have the advantage of a more controllable amount of the hormone released at a time. Other side effects of natural estrogen replacement therapy include breast tenderness, weight gain, and the return of menstruation.
Herbal Replacement for Estrogen
When some people describe natural estrogen replacement they are actually describing herbal replacement for estrogen therapies. For some women these approaches can work, but these over-the-counter solutions may lack the strength of formulas that require a prescription and doctor guidance. Proceed cautiously if you are going to try an herbal replacement for estrogen as natural estrogen replacement supplements can lack scientific research and proof.
Bioidentical Estrogen and Progesterone
Often bioidentical estrogen is combined with other ingredients designed to facilitate the most effective symptom relief. The most common example is bioidentical estrogen and progesterone cream which can have a powerful effect on many symptoms of menopause. Some women only need one or the other, but the combination approach can be quite effective when it is a combination of hormones that are imbalanced.
Natural Estrogen Replacement Doctors
As we’ve suggested before, you want to choose a BHRT doctor who is able to offer several different methods of administration and several different formulas so that you can find both the formula and method that is the best fit for you. Choose your natural estrogen replacement doctor carefully, looking for unbiased online reviews, positive word of mouth, and other research methods. We provide advice for choosing your BHRT doctor.
Natural Estrogen Replacement Side Effects
Bioidentical estrogen is relatively safe and easy to tolerate. That said, as with any medication, whether natural or synthetic, you need to keep track of any unwanted effects. Keep in mind that the formula may have many ingredients and while you may not be experiencing side effects of bioidentical estrogen per se, you may be having a reaction to one of the ingredients used. Of course you will need to tell your doctor up front about any known allergies, but in the case of natural estrogen replacement therapy there may actually be ingredients you have never had before. As far as what to specifically look for as far as short-term side effects of bioidentical estrogen, we almost hesitate to provide a too-specific listing, given that we do not want you to ignore any new effect that occurs after administration since it could be an unwanted effect that few people experience but is still worth noting to your doctor.
Of course side effects of bioidentical estrogen are often of the “usual” type such as headaches, upset stomach, difficulties sleeping, etc. And your doctor may be able to give you a specific list of what to watch for after s/he chooses exactly what formula you are on and what your medical history is. Your doctor should also give you instructions on when to call her or him as far as the severity of side effects of your natural estrogen replacement products. Again, keep in mind that every one of us reacts differently to new medications and you should not hesitate to call even if what you are experiencing was not listed by your doctor.
So we see bioidentical estrogen as not only the most popular of the BHRT approaches, but also one that is increasing used with both genders and at more ages than merely around menopause. As with any BHRT approach, make sure you get both a BHRT doctor and your own PCP to weigh in before you decide to pursue natural estrogen replacement therapy. While we can cover this exciting treatment option in general here, hormonal effects and the potential fixes are highly unique to the individual, as are the potential side effects you might have. We cannot either diagnose or suggest treatment for any individual person with this website, so we suggest you use this information as a starting point and get more personal and individualized information soon.
Bioidentical Estrogen Conclusion
Bioidentical estrogen can be a huge help to many women experiencing a natural decline in this hormone as they age, and for some other reasons even before then. This type of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be the oldest and best known, and many practitioners have truly mastered the art of using this natural hormone. That said, the most important step in the process is to have a thorough and accurate assessment done at the beginning so that you can be sure that this is the approach most likely to alleviate your symptoms. And then during treatment keep track of how you are doing and report any unwanted effects you might be having. A change in formula or even method of administration may be in order.
You might also make sure that you are not a candidate for s combination approach of some sort, though some practitioners may decide to address the main problem with one hormone first. And make sure to report any current or historical medical problems or medications you are on so the doctor can understand if these may be playing a role. Natural estrogen replacement can be simple but homework and a full assessment are needed first before you try bioidentical estrogen or an OTC approach.
Harvard Health provides a good update on the Bioidentical Estrogen and other hormones currently being used in BHRT, and this page from Healthy Day goes over some supplements that may provide Natural Estrogen Replacement. There are also forums where people describe their experience with bioidentical estrogen, and natural estrogen replacement approaches. Let us know through our comments section below if you’ve had BHRT and specifically your experience with Natural Estrogen Replacement with Bioidentical Estrogen.