The Bioidentical Debate

Author: Dr. Quinte Naturopathic Centre on 21 January 2010

Since being discussed on The Oprah Show recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical versus synthetic hormones has been a hot topic. Many women have called our clinic wanting to know if we offer bioidentical hormone replacement as well as to find out more about it.

As opposed to synthetic hormones, “bioidentical” means that the molecular structure is matched exactly to the hormones your body produces, whereas synthetic hormones, for example, Premarin, are made from horse urine.

Aside from the debate about the differences, benefits, and side effects, whether or not “bioidentical” is a made-up term for marketing purposes, and whether or not hormone replacement will work for you, what we’re not seeing much of is menopausal and perimenopausal women asking themselves: What are the underlying causes of my symptoms? Is there a way to treat symptoms without hormone replacement? And can I prevent menopausal symptoms in the first place?

The answer regarding your underlying symptoms is going to be individual, based on several personal factors, and can be found in a naturopathic doctor’s office through detailed questions and lifestyle analysis. The answer to whether you can treat symptoms without hormone replacement, and whether or not these symptoms are even avoidable, is YES.

A naturopathic doctor will prescribe treatments or supplements to help manage the symptoms. In severe cases, this could include bioidentical hormones.

More importantly, however, a naturopath looks to correct imbalances in the body and prevent symptoms from returning when you stop taking the supplements or hormone replacement.

The fact remains that whether you are using bioidentical hormones or synthetic ones to treat your symptoms, you are still only treating symptoms, not the root cause of your issues; thus hormone replacement is only a temporary symptomatic solution, which is why many women continue to take homones long term.

Consider the following statistics before jumping on the bioidentical hormone band wagon:

  • Hot flashes affect 75% of North American women but less than 10% of women in Japan, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Mexico.
  • Perimenopausal women with hot flashes are 4.4 times more likely to be depressed than perimenopausal women who do not experience hot flashes.
  • Physical inactivity, stress and overwork, inability to relax, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and foods containing histamine (e.g., cheese, red wine), are all risk factors that aggravate hot flashes.

It is clear that menopausal transition period is a learning opportunity and a transformative time to adjust to the new stage in your life and optimize your attitude, lifestyle, and diet. If you consider these factors first, and examine all the aspects of your life and health, you may well be able to avoid bothersome issues altogether.

As Oprah says, “Live your best life!”

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Quinte Naturopathic Centre

173 Church Street

Belleville, ON K8N 3C1


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