In my quest for information before I start taking my bcp's (did I mention I have a lot of health anxiety?) I found a site that really explained what is different between hrt and bcp's.
This is the main thing:
BCPS OR HRT?: Whatís the Difference?
Some of us going through early menopause or premature ovarian failure are put on birth control pills; others on hormone replacement therapy. Both act as hormone replacement; in other words, in both cases, youíre taking them to replace the hormones your body used to make. But there are significant differences between the two.
So, inevitably, questions come up: What are the differences? Is one better than the other? Why am on one and not the other? As youíd expect, there are really no simple answers! (Isnít that always the case....)
That said, though, hereís an attempt at explaining this issue, the pros and cons of each...and the reasons your doctor may have prescribed one of these for you.
BIRTH CONTROL PILLS
Letís start with a look at Birth Control Pills: First, and most importantly, itís important to realize that birth control pills arenít for contraception only! Yes, you might have used them in the past to prevent pregnancy, but if youíre prescribed them due to early menopause, POF, or perimenopause, youíre not taking them for the contraceptive reasons as much as you are taking them to boost your hormone levels.
When Theyíre Usually Prescribed....and Why
Most often, your doctor will suggest birth control pills for you if youíre perimenopausal -- that is, youíre still getting your periods, youíre not testing at post-menopausal levels, and you havenít been diagnosed with POF or early menopause. In this case, itís likely that your doctor has suggested bcps as a way of helping you cope with symptoms. This is becoming a fairly common treatment, because, although youíre getting menopausal symptoms (like hot flashes, night sweats, and so forth), youíre still producing a fair level of hormones on your own. And, unlike typical HRT which supplements hormones in your body, birth control pills literally take over.
They override your own hormonal production -- in effect, signaling your ovaries to take a breather and stop producing estrogen and progesterone -- and supplant it with the hormones in the pills themselves. In other words, you get just what is in the bcp. Youíre not adding hormones on top of what youíre producing on your own, but literally replacing them.
This is a key reason bcps are often prescribed if youíre perimenopausal and going crazy with symptoms: In perimenopause, youíre still producing non-menopausal (that is, higher) levels of estrogen and progesterone on your own, so adding more hormones (as you would if you went on standard HRT) might actually make you feel worse. Your hormone levels are usually fluctuating a great deal in perimenopause, so there could be days when HRT would provide you with too much....and wind up causing symptoms from excess estrogen or progesterone. In addition, since irregular bleeding is often one of the mostly widely experienced symptom of perimenopause, bcps will regulate your bleeding.
All in all, youíll get a set, steady amount of hormones that wonít fluctuate according to your own ovarian production.