Question

Do bioidentical hormones relieve night sweats & hot flashes? Are they safe for consumption? I really need your help!

Answer

Bioidentical hormones, often marketed as “natural hormones,” have been sold as a safe way to manage menopausal symptoms. However, they are not scientifically proven more effective or any safer than traditional hormone therapy (HT). The American Cancer Society cautions that bioidentical hormones might have the same health risks as other types of menopause HT.  Although HT is the most effective way to treat hot flashes, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) discovered that women who use HT for extended periods have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, long-term use of combination HT increases the risk of breast cancer. Estriol, a weak form of estrogen, is a bioidentical hormone that is commonly recommended by “natural” hormone proponents. The FDA has not approved any products containing estriol and there’s no evidence that it is safe or effective. The National Women’s Health Network advises women to avoid using estriol products until adequate studies are conducted.

Estradiol, a potent form of estrogen, is a bioidentical hormone that has been proven effective in treating hot flashes in numerous studies. The FDA has approved various estradiol-containing products, including Alora, Climera, Divigel, Estrace, Estraderm, Estrogel, Evamist and Vivelle, as effective drugs to treat hot flashes. NWHN believes that if women choose to use menopause HT, they should choose one of the products approved by the FDA and should use the lowest effective dose for as short as possible to avoid the associated risks.

NWHN recommends trying other methods to manage hot flashes before using any form of hormonal therapies, including bioidentical hormones. Behavioral techniques such as staying cool and making dietary changes by limiting foods that trigger hot flashes are alternatives to HT. Stress management techniques, such as paced breathing and relaxation exercises, can also help reduce hot flashes. At least one study has shown that acupuncture can reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes as well. Your healthcare provider can help you weigh your options and choose the method that is best for you.  


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