Natural does not always mean better and safer. And that’s true for hormones too!
Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) is often used to treat menopausal symptoms that arise after your body stops producing estrogen (1,2,3). They can help with hot flashes, sleep, vaginal discomfort, and bone loss associated with menopause (1,4)
However, MHTs have also been shown to potentially increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, heart and gallbladder disease (1,5). The risk will vary depending on your health history, the type of MHT prescribed, the dosage, when you start it, and for how long you’ll be taking them (1,3). Because of those risks, some people have been claiming that bioidentical, or natural hormones are a safer option (5). They are not (6).
Bioidentical is a term used to describe hormones that are identical to what your body produces, while natural is used to describe hormones that come from plants or animals. But here is the catch: most of these “natural” hormones must be processed in a lab to be bioidentical. Traditional MHT can also contain bioidentical and natural hormones (1). Not only are they not a safer option, but no studies show they are more effective than the currently approved MHT (1,5).
Be careful of misleading advertising using buzz-words such as “natural” and homemade remedies (7). Any form of MHT should always be discussed with your healthcare provider to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks (1,5).