Natural Bio-Identical Hormones

Medically Reviewed
February 24, 2016

What are natural bio-identical hormones, and why have they been popularized in recent years? Bio-Identical hormones are molecularly identical to the human hormones that your endocrine organs in your body produce. With increased concern over traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), safer, more natural alternatives have taken the spotlight. In this post we’ll take a look at the typical symptoms of a hormone imbalance and how Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) may offer a healthier alternative to traditional synthetic therapies.

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms

Each of us relies on our hormones to maintain optimal health.  In women, hormonal imbalance is often believed to occur around menopause; however imbalances may start in the late 20’s to the 30’s. The first hormone to decline is testosterone. This decline may have the symptoms of decreased energy, decreased sex drive and a decreased ability to lose weight and maintain muscle (in athletes – decreased performance.)

In the 40’s, the Progesterone starts to decline and the most common symptoms are PMS symptoms, poor sleep, increased anxiety, and in some cases even panic attacks. Frequently, the traditional treatments are birth control pills and/ or anti-depressants. Both of these treatments usually result in weight gain and a further decline in testosterone levels exacerbating the above symptoms even more. Neither treatment actually fixes the underlying conditions, but just put a patch on them. It should be noted here that there are no synthetic hormones that can be used to treat imbalances prior to menopause. These hormone imbalance symptoms may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Fatigue & sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss or ‘brain fog’
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced libido

While men are often left out of the conversation, they too can experience hormone imbalances similar in nature to menopause; this imbalance is called andropause.

Andropause may even begin at a much younger age than menopause does in women.  As testosterone levels begin to decline with age, men may experience any of the following:

  • Reduced libido
  • Depression
  • Brain Fog
  • Decreased motivation
  • Muscle loss
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Mood swings
  • Blood sugar regulation issues
  • Skin problems

Traditional HRT uses synthetic hormones to restore hormonal balance.  These synthetic hormones are ‘close’ to those occurring naturally in humans, but not identical.  This is one potential reason traditional HRT has been associated with an increased risk of developing certain diseases.  In fact, a 2002 study by the Women’s Health Initiative discovered a heightened risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, breast cancer and dementia in women using traditional HRT.  This left many men and women looking for safer, more natural alternatives.

What is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?

Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy utilizes natural bio-identical hormones to target and restore hormone imbalances.  They are made from natural plant sources, such as yams, and are created to exactly match the molecular structure of the hormones present in your body.  The most common therapies recreate identical forms of the three major hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. In using natural bio-identical hormones, BHRT is determined to be a healthier and more effective alternative to traditional HRT.

Two types of BHRT are typically available: pre-made, and ‘compounded’.  Both types are accessible in various forms, from the common pill to creams, patches, gels, vaginal rings and injections.

Pre-made options, as the name suggests, offer pre-formulated combinations of natural bio-identical hormones. Alternatively, ‘compounded’ hormone therapies offer the advantage of a formula developed specifically for an individual. Creating a unique hormone combination for a given patient is thought to contribute to their increased effectiveness over traditional HRT.