Think “hormone replacement therapy,” and you probably think of menopause. After all, treating hot flashes was one of the first uses for it. (The very first use, in 1935, was to treat menstrual cramps.) And research continues to recommend it for this – particularly with respect to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, which relies on hormones that are an exact match to your own. They are chemically the same, unlike synthetic ones.
One of the most recent studies was a pilot study done by the Marion Gluck Clinic – the leading BHRT clinic in the UK – and published earlier this year in the Journal of Prescribing Practice. Among the 69 women with menopausal symptoms who received BHRT and completed the study in full, researchers found a 52% improvement in quality of life.
More, all 21 menopause symptoms they tracked were “greatly improved” after treatment.
The top six symptoms that were experienced by 50% or more of the patients before starting BHRT treatment included: difficulty in sleeping, feeling tired or lacking in energy, loss of interest in sex, sweating at night, irritability and feeling tense or nervous. These symptoms were reduced between 3.9- and 1.9-fold after BHRT treatment.
Other symptoms that significantly improved included hot flashes (“a 5.8-fold reduction”), difficulty concentrating, muscle and joint pain, loss of interest, feeling unhappy, panic attacks, crying spells, headaches, racing heart, excitability, pressure in the head, feeling dizzy or faint, breathing difficulties, and numbness in various parts of the body.
This is all great news, but the even better news – well, it’s not exactly news at all, really, considering that we’ve blogged about it before – is that BHRT can help with far more than just making menopause more bearable. It has a wide range of uses for men and women alike, supporting good cardiovascular health, sexual health, and mental health. Evidence suggests that it may indeed prevent a number of age-related diseases – and is far safer than synthetic HRT.
This is why it remains such an important tool in anti-aging or longevity medicine. It may even help with the appearance of your skin, according to another recent paper – this in the International Journal of Dermatology.
As you age, your body produces less collagen – the bodily component that prevents wrinkles, sagging, and moisture loss. So your skin becomes less adept at repairing itself, resulting in thinner skin. Estrogens, on the other hand, increase collagen production and skin thickness.
Studies dating back to the 1980s have demonstrated that ERT can increase skin thickness in both the dermal and epidermal layers, increase epidermal hydration and skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, increase the level of vascularization, and enhance the quantity and quality of collagen.
Other hormones may similarly help the skin. “While there is less literature,” write the researchers,
on declining levels of progesterone, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and human growth hormone (HGH) in relation to their effects on skin aging, studies have demonstrated that replacing these hormones leads to thickened skin and restored elasticity.
Ultimately, the authors suggest that customized BHRT “should begin in the years immediately surrounding menopause or andropause [“male menopause”], as this more adequately maintains hormone levels, rather than replacing a deficient state.”
Furthermore, combination of oral and topical estrogens and DHEA may further enhance cosmetic outcomes, as studies have demonstrated both to be effective on their own for thickening skin and improvement of wrinkles.
We are pleased to offer BHRT for a wide variety of applications here in our West Los Angeles integrative clinic. Contact us now to see if BHRT might be right for you.