Birth control versus hormone replacement therapy

A common question in the hormone therapy world is how it differs from birth control pills. After all, birth control pills – and other forms of hormonal birth control – provide synthetic hormones to your body to change your levels or supplement what your body naturally produces, which is exactly what hormone therapy does.

So, does that mean that birth control pills are considered hormone replacement therapy? While birth control and HRT both involve supplementing hormones in your body, birth control is not considered hormone replacement therapy, and they have completely different use cases and goals for women.

A crash course on birth control pills

Hormonal birth control pills are made of synthetic hormones that mimic what natural hormones do in the body, and they come in two forms: a combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progesterone, and progestin-only pills, which contain only progesterone. As the name implies, birth control pills’ main purpose is to prevent pregnancy in women, and it does this in a few different ways. 

First, it makes the vagina and uterus less inhabitable for sperm by making cervical mucus thicker and making it harder for sperm to travel through the female reproductive system to fertilize an egg. Second, and more importantly, it prevents ovulation by increasing the level of estrogen in the body, and without an egg to fertilize, pregnancy is impossible. 

How does hormone therapy differ from hormonal birth control?

While birth control pills are specifically designed to help women – specifically, women of childbearing age – prevent pregnancy, hormone therapy has a totally different goal and serves a different group of women: perimenopausal and menopausal, or non-childbearing, women. 

Hormone replacement therapy is designed to restore hormones to the normal, optimal level in the body, but in order to do that, it often requires a much lower dose, and it is not usually being used to prevent ovulation. On the other hand, birth control pills require a higher dose, because they are designed to prevent ovulation, and the natural levels in younger women are much higher to start with. 

Not only are birth control pills and HRT very different in terms of uses and goals, but using birth control pills as a younger adult and into perimenopause can actually make hormone imbalances worse and become one of the causes of needing HRT as we age. 

Other benefits of hormone therapy

The rebalancing of hormones in the body can provide some wonderful benefits to aging adults – both women and men – including improvements in: 

  • Energy
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Memory retention
  • Mental clarity
  • Endurance
  • Muscle recovery
  • Muscle building
  • Fat loss
  • Libido

If you think you may be suffering the symptoms of a hormone imbalance, contact the 10X Health team today to get started with some comprehensive testing and get in touch with our hormone experts. 

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