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the pellet: Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Right for You? A Fitness + Nutrition Coach’s Deep Dive

Bioidentical hormones have been a hot topic, especially for those navigating the choppy waters of midlife changes. As a fitness and nutrition coach, I often hear about these treatments from clients who take or inject these pellets. I wanted to learn more about this therapy because, on the days they get their inserts, they can't participate in workouts.

So, I had a few questions:

Is it your best choice?

Who shouldn't take bioidentical hormones?

Let's dive in!

Who Should Avoid Bioidentical Hormones?

Deciding to use any type of hormone therapy is a personal choice, one that should be made with your healthcare provider after weighing the risks and benefits. Bioidentical hormones have stirred some controversy, and many aren't FDA-approved. However, that doesn't mean they're off the table.

If you've had or are at high risk for the following conditions, hormone therapy may not be safe for you:

  • Blood clotting disorders

  • Heart or cardiovascular disease

  • Breast cancer

  • Stroke

Why Are Bioidentical Hormones Used?

As we age, our hormone levels drop, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This decline can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Loss of interest in sex or painful intercourse

  • Problems sleeping

  • Loss of energy or fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Mood changes

  • Memory loss or confusion

Procedure Details: How Are Bioidentical Hormones Given?

Bioidentical hormones come in various forms, including:

  • Pills

  • Patches

  • Creams

  • Gels

  • Shots

  • Implanted pellets

Your healthcare provider will determine which method is best for you. You may need to try more than one method to find what works well for you.


Risks of Bioidentical Hormones

Research shows that taking hormones can increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. The risk of heart disease and breast cancer may also rise, especially if you're older or use hormone therapy for an extended period. Many providers claim bioidentical hormones are safer than traditional hormone therapy, but large research studies to prove this are lacking.

Common Side Effects

Side effects are common, especially after the first dose, as your body adjusts to new hormone levels. These side effects often improve over time, but sometimes the dose may need to be changed. Common side effects include:

  • Weight gain

  • Blurred vision

  • Tiredness

  • Acne

  • Increased facial hair

  • Headaches

  • Breast tenderness

  • Spotting

  • Cramping

  • Bloating

  • Mood swings

  • Skin irritation at the application site

How Long Can You Take Bioidentical Hormones?

BHRT isn't designed to be used forever. Extended use can increase the risk of some cancers and other health issues. Most people use hormone replacement therapy for 5 to 7 years. For women, due to the increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke, it’s wise to limit BHRT use to 2 to 3 years. Men might continue treatment longer.

Your treatment length will depend on your unique symptoms, how well you respond to BHRT, and any side effects. Some studies have shown no adverse health outcomes for those taking BHRT for over a decade, depending on the patient's age and specific hormones used. However, patients with blood clotting disorders, heart or cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, or a history of stroke are not good candidates for BHRT.

In conclusion, while BHRT can be beneficial for many, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if it's right for you. Weigh the risks and benefits carefully, and consider your unique health circumstances. Always keep your fitness and wellness goals in mind, and stay informed to make the best decision for your health.

(All studies referenced in this blog post were conducted by the Cleveland Clinic.)

Stay healthy and informed!

x, heather

Fitness + Nutrition Coach


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