Bioidentical Hormones vs. Synthetic: Everything You Need to Know

If you have been reading online about hormone replacement therapies for women to help with menopause, you probably saw the great commotion created by the study performed by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).

Basically, the study in 2002 found that post-menopausal women taking traditional synthetic hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms had an increased risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots.

Of course, this meant that a lot of women who were on traditional synthetic hormone therapy wanted to move to bioidentical hormones. But what is the difference between bioidentical hormones vs synthetic?

Read on to see what these two kinds of hormone therapies are exactly and learn what the difference between the two is.

What Are Synthetic Hormones?

A lot of hormone replacement therapies in the past used synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone to simulate natural hormones that the patient’s body didn’t produce enough of.

Many symptoms of menopause are caused due to the decrease in the levels of estradiol, which is the most potent estrogen made in the human body.

There are synthetic formulations of estradiol now that can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and burning, and osteoporosis.

There are also conjugated estrogens which are a combination of several different types of estrogens that can help ease the symptoms of menopause.

An example of this would be Premarin, which is an estrogen-replacement drug made from a pregnant mare’s urine (horse urine).

These synthetic hormones come in several different forms, such as a cream, an oral tablet, or an intramuscular injection.

Synthetic Hormones Pros and Cons

There are so many symptoms of menopause that are detrimental to the optimal functioning and lives of post-menopausal women. Some of these are:

  • Anxiety/Panic Attacks
  • Atrophy of the vagina
  • Insomnia
  • Hot flashes
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Loss of libido
  • Urinary infections
  • Joint/muscle pains
  • And more

One of the benefits of taking synthetic hormones is that they help ease the symptoms of menopause allowing women to live healthier lives.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been associated with many positive benefits for women. These include prevention of osteoporosis, improvement in rheumatoid arthritis, and reducing colon cancer.

However, the WHI study from above showed that HRT also has many negative effects, such as increasing the incidence of breast cancer in women.

Of course, HRT isn’t suited for everyone, and everyone has to speak to their doctor and gauge the effectiveness of the treatment for their particular set of attributes.

What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are made from natural sources, like soy or yams, which is why they are also labeled as natural. They are termed bioidentical because they behave exactly like natural hormones in the body.

Synthetic hormones only imitate hormones and are not identical to natural hormones. But bioidentical hormones are treated by the body and its receptors exactly as if they were produced by it.

They are identical in their molecular structure to the hormones made by women’s bodies. And this is what makes them so appealing to women who are interested in natural HRT.

For any woman who is looking for a natural alternative to HRT, bioidentical hormones may be the answer.

Bioidentical Hormones Pros and Cons

The great thing about bioidentical hormones is their similarity to the hormones produced in women’s bodies.

However, the major con here is that there haven’t been any major studies done to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of bioidentical hormones on women’s bodies.

This is because they are still new to the market and haven’t been used for long enough to figure out the side effects that may be present.

If you are thinking about bioidentical hormones vs synthetic, Harvard Medical School says that there is more to think about when looking at what hormones to use than where they came from.

Most women focus entirely on the naturalness of a product when gauging whether to use it or not. But that’s not the most important thing to focus on.

The most important thing would be to sit down with your doctor or medical professional. You can then figure out whether the particular treatment, natural or not, is suitable for your medical condition and particular physiology.

Choosing Between Bioidentical Hormones vs Synthetic

As always, when you are choosing between these two avenues of therapy for your menopausal or other hormone-related symptoms, you will need to have a long sitdown with your physician to see what works for you.

Many women are vegan and against cruelty to animals. Thus, they end up choosing natural or bioidentical hormones as they come from soy or yams, and not from pregnant mares.

Other women have read studies about the increased risk of breast cancer with synthetic hormones. That causes them to think twice about using it.

Whatever situation you are in, the main thing you will have to focus on is what works for your particular condition. No one option works for all women out there. That would be ideal if that were the case.

Maybe you are interested in trying out natural herbal or Ayurvedic remedies instead of HRT, natural or not. That could be an option for you, but again, you would have to consult with a trained medical professional first.

The worst thing to do in such cases would be to research online on your own and make a decision that isn’t based on any factual medical knowledge.

Make an Informed Decision About Your Hormone Therapy

One of the worst things to deal with when going through menopause is the various symptoms associated with it. However, you are not on your own. There are many therapies available to you.

Choosing between bioidentical hormones vs synthetic isn’t the only issue. Go through your myriad of options with a medical professional that you trust.

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