Menopause is a natural condition that all women experience in their lifetime. The term menopause describes a constellation of changes that generally occur in a women's fifties or sixties, with the symptoms of change often becoming noticable in her forties. During this time, the ovaries stop producing eggs, menstrual cycles become less frequent and eventually stop, and estrogen,progesterone and testosterone levels decline.
The hormonal decline that occurs with menopause causes uncomfortable symptoms that lead many women to seek relief. And while relief is rumored to exist with special diets or acupuncture, hormone replacement therapy is known as the most effective. Many women, however, live in fear of hormone therapy, questioning its safety and the impact it will have on their long term health.
This fear stems from the results of the 1991 Women's Health Initiative (WHI), which was a long-term clinical research study that evaluated the safety and efficacy of hormone therapy. The study tested synthetic, or traditional, hormone therapy on postmenopausal women. One branch of the study, which compared the effects of estrogen-only therapy to estrogen-progestin combined therapy, was stopped in 2002 due to adverse health outcomes that developed among many of the subjects.
Traditional (Non-Bioidentical) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) vs. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
The WHI study used traditional hormones on their subjects, NOT bioidentical hormones. Unlike bioidentical hormones, traditional hormones are synthetic (manmade) and are NOT designed to mimic the natural structure of human endogenous hormones. Instead, traditional hormone bind tightly to the hormone receptors in the body and cause prolonged stimulation. This action inhibits the natural metabolism and prevents the body from weaning the traditional hormones from your system. Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, mimic the affinity of human endogenous hormones and deliver consistent physiological levels of the hormone.