Between your friends, your mother, and your latest Google search, it’s hard to believe everything you hear and read about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If you think about it, even your doctors have conflicting views about HRT.
At the biostation, we understand your frustration, so today we want to put an end to your suffering and confusion. Here’s the factual scoop on the most popular hormone replacement therapy myths, once and for all.
Myth #1: HRT Works Only for Women
Fact: Absolutely not. Both men and women can find significant benefits with HRT.
Just as women seek hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms, men too can address their hormonal imbalances. For men, testosterone levels start progressively declining the moment they reach their 30’s. Low testosterone can lead to symptoms such as low libido, fatigue, weight fluctuations, and more. All of these signs that can be managed with hormone replacement therapy.
Myth #2: Bio-identical Hormones Aren’t “Natural”
Fact: Bio-identical hormones contain the exact molecular match of the human hormone.
All bio-identical hormones, even though they are plant-deriveded, require a chemical process that helps pharmacists synthesize the final product. Whether you’re talking about creams, patches, injections, or pellets, they all entail this chemical process. However, bio-identical hormones do contain the exact molecular match of human hormones, which is what makes them the most natural form of hormones you can find.
Myth #3: HRT Increases Risks of Cancer
Fact: This myth is based on an old, flawed study that has been proven wrong over and over again.
Perhaps the most common HRT myth is its supposed to link to cancer. This is based on a study conducted years ago, that used mainly synthetic hormones. Other researchers have gone back to this study and found that it was flawed, debunking the myth that HRT leads to cancer. Although there is some evidence that HRT may raise the risk of certain cancers, in particular patients, most studies suggest this is a minimal increase that only applies to a tiny section of the population, which is less than 1%.
Myth #4: Everyone Can Benefit from HRT
Fact: Yes. But, not at the same level.
While on average most people do respond positively to hormone replacement therapy, not everyone does it in the same way. For example, when the level of hormonal imbalances in premenopausal women is barely noticeable, even small hormone doses may be too high, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms. Others might not be responsive to certain types of HRT, especially when they’re using synthetic hormones. In this case, a combination approach can help.
Myth #5: HRT Won’t Help with Weight Loss
Fact: In both men and women, specific hormones can be linked to their weight gain or loss.
Although hormone replacement therapy is not marketed as a diet or weight loss program, having balanced hormone levels can help balance your weight as well. Hormone imbalances that occur during menopause or andropause can lead to weight gain. And while HRT is not a magic remedy to weight loss, it can help maintain your energy levels, avoid that lethargic feeling commonly experienced with menopause, and increase your stamina. Balanced hormone levels, an active lifestyle, and a healthy diet can all help with weight loss.
Myth #6: Natural Hormones Are Vegan
Fact: It depends on what you consider vegan.
Some hormones are sourced from beef or pork products, which automatically labels them as not vegan. However, other hormones are also derived from mare’s urine, and it’s up to you to decide if that’s vegan or not. However, there are alternatives including synthetic hormones, plant-derived hormones, or phytohormones. At the biostation, we use bio-identical hormones for our HRT therapies that are derived from plant sources like soy or wild yams.
Myth 7: HRT Is Illegal
Fact: Absolutely not.
Hormone replacement therapy earned a bad reputation after athletes started abusing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). However, the use of hormone replacement therapy to treat health conditions such as low testosterone levels, menopause, and others is entirely legal. In fact, HRT is highly beneficial for those suffering from any hormonal imbalance.
Myth #8: Synthetic Hormones Work Best
Fact: It can vary.
The myth behind synthetic hormones working better than natural hormones or bioidentical hormones is solely based on the fact that some people do respond better to this form of hormones. There are many variables involved, including your body’s response to certain medications, your unique body structure, and the biochemistry reaction with your body. However, synthetic hormones can be pesky, and at the end of the day, it’s true that synthetic hormones might contain unhealthy or risky substances.
Myth #9: HRT Leads to Blood Clots
Fact: This myth is also derived from the same study that linked HRT to cancer.
Following the same concept as before, the study was based on overgeneralization and flawed results. In reality, the link between hormone replacements for menopause, for example, really depends on lifestyle, genetics, and the delivery mechanism for HRT. Also, the latest study suggests there are 4 to 5 cases of blood clots out of every 1,000. This is less than 0.5% risk, which is extremely low.
Myth #10: Menopause & Andropause Can Be Delayed with HRT
Fact: HRT helps manage symptoms associated with menopause, but those symptoms will still be there if you don’t continue proper treatment.
It’s a common misbelief that male or female hormone replacement therapy is stopping menopause or andropause. In reality, HRT is only balancing your hormones to match healthy levels. What may happen is that when someone starts HRT and abruptly stops the treatment, estrogen “withdrawal” results as a common symptom. This is why hormone replacement therapy should never be stopped cold, and it’s best to have doctor supervision and slowly reduce your dose.
Myth #11: HRT Is Only Good for 5 Years
Fact: No scientific evidence rules a timeline for HRT.
Each need should be taken into consideration for hormone replacement therapy. There isn’t harm in continuing HRT past the 5-year benchmark. There’s also not a set-in-stone age to stop working with hormone replacement therapy. Based on your needs and your body’s signals, your doctor would recommend a treatment timeline for you.
Myth #12: Waiting for Symptoms Is a Must for HRT
Fact: HRT can be beneficial for those experiencing mild symptoms.
Most people wait until their symptoms are unbearable or too far developed to ask for a doctor’s opinion. Hormone replacement should be considered almost a preventative care measure to deal with many health issues. In fact, the earlier you start with HRT, the more protection your body will get from conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.
Myth #13: HRT Leads to Breast Cancer
Fact: Over 80% of women with breast cancer have never taken hormones.
This myth is also related to that old-time study we’ve mentioned before. In fact, the risk of developing breast cancer due to HRT is lower than the current risk associated with alcohol use and breast cancer. In that study, the group that only took estrogen hormones actually reported an 18% decrease in breast cancer. However, the study also tested a group that received estrogen and progestin, and new research indicates it was only progestin that was linked to the slight increase in risk, yet the evidence was insufficient to create a significant link between the two .
Myth #14: Hormone Levels Can’t Be Measured
Fact: There are several ways of measuring proper hormone levels.
First, you have saliva levels to determine current hormone levels. These numbers are used to recommend the right hormone therapy dosage. But, saliva levels don’t correlate to blood hormone levels. Your hormone levels based on your saliva can vary on time of day, diet, and more variables. Blood tests, like the bioID, are more accurate and helpful at determining the appropriate dosage of HRT.
At last, you have the facts about the most popular hormone therapy replacement myths. But of course, you can always call us at 561.284.8729 and speak with a Patient Advocate to schedule a consultation with our hormone specialists to help you answer all your questions and debunk even more HRT myths.