Hormone therapy, aka hormonal replacement therapy, commonly means using hormones to replace a deficiency that causes you symptoms. Generally, these hormones are synthetically produced to be bioidentical, which means they are identical to those produced by your body.
Hormone therapy also refers to reducing the effect and lowering the level of a certain hormone. For example, antagonistic therapy is used to treat hyperthyroidism and certain cancers. i.e. breast and prostate.
Hormone replacement is most often used to treat symptoms during menopause. Yet, this therapy is also used to treat other insufficient hormone level symptoms, such as seen with:
- growth hormone deficiency
- low levels of testosterone in men due to disease or andropause
Natural hormone therapy means that the hormone originates from a plant or animal, which is altered to be identical. Bioidentical natural hormones are typically harvested from soy, yams, pigs or horses.
Also, the treatment with bioidentical natural hormones is frequently based on creating a custom dosage of hormones tailored to your individual imbalance. These hormone replacement concoctions are mixed at pharmacies referred to as compounding pharmacies. And they’re not regulated by the FDA because the compounded products vary.
Hormone replacement is best known for its treatment of menopausal symptoms, notably relief from:
This form of hormone therapy delivers estrogen replacement via a pill, patch, injection or vaginal cream.
Some potential side effects when you’re on estrogen hormone replacement are:
And you may experience irregular vaginal bleeding when you first start. A hormone dosage change may offer some side effect relief.
Estrogen hormone therapy is highly controversial due to evidence of some associated health risks, like:
- pulmonary embolism
- developing gallstones
- deep venous thrombosis
- breast cancer ~ if taken over 5 years
- blood clots ~ lower with estrogen skin patches
- heart disease ~ evidence is somewhat conflicting
- uterine cancer ~ only in those who have not had hysterectomy
And women who have not had a hysterectomy can lower their risk of uterine cancer if they take progesterone in concert with estrogen.