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Wilmington North Carolina HRT Specialists 

Bioidentical hormone therapy, when used for the first time, has potential side effects as the body is not used to the new level of hormones. Most of these side effects are also linked to dosage, and it is advisable as your hormones improve, you adjust and in the case of further changes you should contact your physician. One should not confuse side effects with risks common to those who take hormones especially hormone therapy (HT). In older women, the consistent use of hormone therapy can lead to heart diseases and breast cancer while in other people mainly in a youthful state; risks are blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. Below are common side effects of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

HRT Treatment

• There is increased aggressiveness in both men and women during the first time of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but problems are resolved as levels become balanced

• There are side effects in women related to breast tenderness, cramping, bloating, and spotting in the body. This side effect is tied to the treatment of hormone estrogen, but it is resolved as hormones are balanced

• Patients commonly complain of itching and redness at the injections, but symptoms disappear as the body adjusts to treatment.

Bioidentical Hormones - What Are They?

HRT Hormones

A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.

Risks associated with HRT

There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.

Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.

Hormone replacement therapy risks

  • Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
  • Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
  • Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
  • Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
  • Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
  • Higher risk of developing gall stones

Hormone replacement benefits

  • Relief of menopause related complaints
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
  • Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging

The side effects of HRT

Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.

  • Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
  • Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
  • Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
  • Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
  • Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
  • Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
  • Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use

Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.

The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.

One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.

Our body is like a well-constructed machine, with every part having a multitude of functions. The human body acts properly because of some important hormones that our endocrine system produces. However, as we begin to age, these hormones become insufficient, thus creating an imbalance and leading our body not to function properly. Hormone deficiencies or hormonal imbalance is one of the major problems both men and women experience as they enter midlife. With extensive research, scientists have come up to a solution for hormonal imbalance called Hormone Replacement Therapy. An almost similar treatment is the Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which uses hormones that are entirely identical in chemical structure to those found in the human body.

Male Hormone Replacement Therapy: Andropause

Estrogen Therapy

So the medical profession insists on using what it is familiar with, and that is drugs. Bioidentical hormones are becoming more familiar to doctors, and more and more doctors are willing to prescribe them. But its far from the majority--many will not.

Why bother with bioidentical hormones? Wouldn't they have the same side effects as what doctors now prescribe. Doctors who use them say no, that they do not have the side effects and risks of drug HRT. While most women are already aware of the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, it may be helpful to look at the issue quickly.

Risks of HRT

Many studies have underscored the risks of HRT. The biggest is The Women's Health Initiative. The study followed 160,000 women between 1993 and 1998. It compared the health of women on different combinations of HRT with women who were not.

The study reported that the women on HRT had greater risk for a variety of health problems. The study showed that the women on HRT had a significantly increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. The study showed that HRT benefited some conditions, decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer and of hip fractures due to osteoporosis.

Hormone Replacement Therapy - What Are the Benefits?

Hormone Replacement Therapy For Women

A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.

Risks associated with HRT

There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.

Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.

Hormone replacement therapy risks

  • Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
  • Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
  • Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
  • Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
  • Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
  • Higher risk of developing gall stones

Hormone replacement benefits

  • Relief of menopause related complaints
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
  • Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging

The side effects of HRT

Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.

  • Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
  • Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
  • Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
  • Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
  • Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
  • Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
  • Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use

Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.

The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.

One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.