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Bioidentical Hormones and Menopause

Menopause is the time of life when the monthly periods (menstruation) end. The ovaries, the twin organs that produce and release an egg during each monthly cycle, also produce the female hormone estrogen. There are four primary types of estrogen circulating in the blood—estrone, estrone-sulfate, estradiol, and estriol. At an average age of 51, when the ovaries stop producing estrogen, menopause begins.

Menopause can have mild to severe symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. The severity of symptoms varies from woman to woman and there are a variety of ways to treat them. The most common and effective way is to replace the estrogen the body no longer produces with hormone therapy (HT). Hormone therapy can be estrogen alone or combined estrogen-progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone, which is produced after the release of an egg, or ovulation).

In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative study of postmenopausal women with an average age of 65 found that taking combination HT slightly increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. The results scared women and many stopped taking HT, only to find their symptoms came back. As a result, women and their doctors began looking for alternative ways to treat menopausal symptoms, such as bioidentical hormone therapy. (For more information on the WHI study, see Resources at the end of this fact sheet.)

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The Hormone Foundation

Dr. Lysette Iglesias M.D.

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