What’s The Difference Between HRT And BHRT?
If you’re entering menopause or have experienced surgical menopause due to a hysterectomy, your doctor may have mentioned hormone replacement therapy (HRT). As a result, you have plenty of questions about HRT — and one of those questions is most likely about the differences between HRT (standard hormone replacement therapy) and BHRT (bioidentical hormone replacement therapy).
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has three main attributes:
- All the hormones used in the therapy are chemically identical to human hormones
- Patients receive a dosage that has been selected individually, according to their specific needs
- The goal is to achieve hormonal balance that will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for the patient
The key facts here are that the hormones are identical to human hormones. There is no standard dose that is given to every woman. The goal is balance. Instead of aiming to replace hormone production, the aim is to improve a woman’s overall quality of life. The primary goal of traditional HRT, however, is simply the prevention of disease, with a potential side effect that the overall quality of life is improved (and the side effects in that case might not be worth the gain).
As oestrogen production in the body decreases, it creates a number of difficulties for women. Oestrogen in the body doesn’t just cause the lining of the uterus to thicken each month. It also aids the body in processing calcium and helps maintain vaginal health. The abrupt drop of oestrogen in the body with the onset of menopause can lead to hot or cold flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and sleep problems. For many years, HRT was seen as the obvious answer to these problems.
Then research came out that indicated that HRT was causing more problems than it solved. HRT dramatically increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. Immediately, many women (and doctors) decided that it wasn’t worth the risk.
Thankfully, BHRT may still be a safe option. With bioidentical hormones, you aren’t putting anything in your body that wouldn’t be found there naturally. There’s some evidence that BHRT may even work to prevent several types of cancers and osteoporosis. Currently, however, there simply isn’t enough clinical research on the subject to be sure. That’s why BHRT isn’t marketed toward disease prevention: it aims to improve the quality of life for women experiencing menopause.
Do you have questions about BHRT? Please contact me for answers and individualized strategies.