To resolve imbalances and symptoms triggered by significant hormonal shifts, you may be recommended hormone replacement therapy or HRT. However, before commencing HRT it is imperative to have a strong understanding of the two primary forms of hormone replacement therapy and why one is significantly better than the other.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
The goal of hormone replacement therapy is to restore proper bodily function and hormone activity. This is accomplished through identification of imbalances and subsequent supplementation with the appropriate hormone or hormones. Unfortunately, the traditional approach to HRT is to use hormones that are only similar to those produced by the body rather than those that match exactly. This is the primary issue with traditional HRT. However, there is an alternative in the form of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, that does not contain this significant drawback. Before comparing the two approaches it is important to be familiar with both HRT and BHRT.
The Problems with Synthetic Hormones and HRT
Standard HRT relies on synthetic hormone products such as Premarin, an estrogen derived from pregnant horse urine, and Provera, a collection of engineered progestins. Treatment with such substances can trigger major dysfunction.
The Women’s Health Initiative conducted a study showing that treatment with synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone increased the risk of serious health issues including heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, it was found that synthetic hormones actively negate the cardioprotective qualities of the body’s naturally produced hormones. Therefore, not only does HRT promote future disease, it inhibits the body’s natural resiliency to serious health issues and disorders.
Doctors typically only prescribe HRT for short periods for fear of increasing the patients’ risk of heart disease, cancer, and other major disease. Furthermore, studies have also shown that synthetic progesterone is associated with adverse reactions including but not limited to bleeding, missed periods, and drowsiness. These are only some of the reasons to avoid treatment with synthetic hormones.
Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy a Better Option?
In contrast to synthetic HRT, research consistently shows that hormone replacement therapy using natural bioidentical hormones does not cause any harmful side effects and actually promotes greater patient outcomes.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT, helps limit the risk of developing major health conditions. This is due in part to the fact that bioidentical hormones are exactly the same as those naturally produced by the body. This allows for more effective and safer utilization. Some of the most commonly used bioidentical hormones include estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone. In addition to resolving imbalances of these and other hormones, BHRT reduces the risk of cancers while also protecting against heart disease and other forms of dysfunction.
Comparing HRT and BHRT
Synthetic and bioidentical hormones have dramatically different effects on the body. The degree of dissimilarity between the two substances is so significant that they often have an entirely opposite impact on the body as a whole. This contrast is easily seen when comparing the influence of natural and synthetic hormones on significant areas of health such as heart function, blood sugar regulation, and cancer prevention.
Protecting Heart Function
Multiple studies have been done on the negative effects of synthetic estrogens and faux progesterone regarding heart health. Hormone therapy with these substances is associated with greater vascular plaque, clot formation, and artery spasms. Each of which contribute to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In contrast, studies show that natural estrogens and progesterone have cardioprotective attributes that have the entirely opposite effect of synthetic estrogen and progesterone. Taking bioidentical hormones actually improves cardiovascular function and reduces the risk of cardiac episodes.
Insulin and Blood Sugar Regulation
Research shows that taking synthetic progesterone increases insulin and glucose levels. As the levels of insulin and circulating glucose increases so too does that risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Studies also show that when compared to natural estrogens and progesterone, treatment with synthetic progestins can increase the degree of insulin resistance by upwards of 200 percent. A significant increase of insulin such as this almost ensures a worsening of diabetes and a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. Regarding diabetes and glucose control, it is clear that use of synthetic hormones is incredibly detrimental while bioidentical hormones may be able to help normalize levels without contributing to further dysfunction.
Studies have found that the use of synthetic hormones in HRT is associated with a significantly greater risk of developing various forms of cancer. One study found that women treated with progestin had a 38 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer when compared to those who had never undergone HRT.
It is understood that progestin and other synthetic hormones promote breast cell proliferation and pro-carcinogenic activity. Both factors increase the risk of breast cancer. Conversely, studies show that natural progesterone has the opposite effect of progestins and helps regulate the proliferation of breast tissue thereby limiting the risk of developing breast cancer.
Another study found that taking synthetic estrogen increased the rate of cell proliferation by 230 percent whereas taking natural progesterone reduced it by 400 percent. This stark contrast exemplifies the significant difference between synthetic and natural hormone treatments concerning cancer risk. It is clear that bioidentical and natural hormones are the far superior treatment option.
Watch this to learn more about the safety and efficacy of BHRT.
Protect Your Health by Using Bioidentical Hormones
For many individuals, hormone replacement therapy is an important part of their wellness. Unfortunately, synthetic hormones commonly used in HRT such as Premarin and progestins are associated with significant health risks including cardiovascular disease and various cancers. However, as confirmed by numerous studies, bioidentical hormones replacement therapy is significantly safer than traditional HRT and does not promote adverse side effects. Furthermore, bioidentical hormones provide notable health benefits and protections with extended use. If you are in a position where hormone replacement therapy is necessary, reject synthetic products and be sure your treatment utilizes natural bioidentical hormones.
1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “The Bioidentical Hormone Debate: Are Bioidentical Hormones (Estradiol, Estriol, and Progesterone) Safer or More Efficacious than Commonly Used Synthetic Versions in Hormone Replacement Therapy?” Postgraduate Medicine, Volume 121, 2009 – Issue 1.
2. Cannoletta, Marianna and Angelo Cagnacci. “Modification of blood pressure in postmenopausal women: role of hormone replacement therapy.” International journal of women’s health vol. 6 745-57. 11 Aug. 2014.
3. Francine Grodstein, Sc.D, et. al. “Postmenopausal Estrogen and Progestin Use and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.” N Engl J Med 1996; 335:453-461.
4. WHI Staff. “Women’s Health Initiative.” https://www.whi.org
5. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Natural (Bio-identical) vs. Synthetic HRT.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/natural-hormone-replacement/Natural_vs_Synthetic_HRT_Literature_Review.pdf