Gynecologic Health — Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the medical treatment for symptoms related to perimenopause and menopause. During perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause, the ovaries diminish in size and their production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate. Natural hormone fluctuations can lead to unpleasant symptoms, some of which include irregular menstrual cycles, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, and hot flashes.
Hormone replacement therapy is used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause by supplementing the body with either estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone in combination:
- Estrogen therapy: Estrogen is taken alone. This is often prescribed as a pill or patch used every day. Estrogen may also be prescribed as a cream.
- Estrogen — progesterone therapy: Also known as combination therapy. This method is used in women who still have their uterus because estrogen combined with progesterone decreases the risk of uterine cancer.
What are bio-identical hormones?
Many patients equate bio-identical hormones with "natural hormones" or "plant-derived hormones."
Bio-identical hormones are simply defined as those compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as the hormones that are produced in the human body. Because they are chemically exact duplicates, many believe them to be a safer and more natural alternative to the conventional hormone preparations. This is a common misconception.
In fact, many of the traditionally prescribed hormone preparations are also bio-identical hormones.