Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy
Some women try so-called "natural" treatments to relieve symptoms of menopause. This therapy for natural hormone replacement often consists of products made from soy or other plants. These plants contain phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances), which are the key ingredient in these supplemental products. Bioidentical hormone therapy uses different plant hormones (similar to those in a woman's body). At this point, there is not enough evidence to say for certain whether these treatments are effective.
What Is Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy?
With the controversy surrounding hormone replacement therapy, some women choose to take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to alleviate their symptoms of menopause. There currently is insufficient evidence to prove whether so-called "natural" hormone replacement therapy is helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms. It's important to tell your doctor if you are taking any of these treatments -- they may have side effects or make another drug not work as well.
Some of the most common natural hormone replacement choices include:
- Other sources of phytoestrogens
- Bioidentical hormone therapy.
Soy as a Natural Therapy for Hormone Replacement
Soy contains phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances from a plant). Some research has shown that soy food products can help with mild hot flashes. The risks of taking soy, especially soy pills and powders, are not known. In addition, soy may not be safe for women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer.
Other Sources of Phytoestrogens Used in Natural Hormone Replacement
As mentioned, phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in some cereals, vegetables, legumes (beans), and herbs. These phytoestrogens work in the body like a weak form of estrogen. They might relieve some menopause symptoms, but they could also carry risks similar to those of treatment with estrogen. This idea has not yet been fully explored or tested.
In addition to soy, other sources of phytoestrogens include herbs, such as: