Even the terms around here twine around your ankles and trip you up.
We decided to stick to the medical terminology. So around here "natural hormones" means hormones that are bio-identical to human females--though mostly we try to say "bio-identical" to be clear. Phytoestrogens or supplements is generally how we refer to plant substances that have some kind of hormone-like activity. The reason why medical researchers do NOT call them natural is that they are only remotely like human estrogens and progesterones. In fact, some of them should be called anti-estrogens since they block it out of cells. "Synthetic" refers to hormones that are not bio-identical to human estrogens. Most of them have deliberately altered molecular structures--sometimes for medical reasons--mostly so the manufactuerers can maintain control so they can make money.
Ok, now for my perspective. If you don't have ovaries, you should try hormone replacement if you can. There are lots of different kinds. They work throughout your body, there are a lot of positive effects, the risks are fairly clear--so you can calculate your own position in terms of the risks. Nothing else does for your body what hormones do. Low doses give you the good things, so if you can take a low dose, that's great.
Phytoestrogens do NOT help with the signs of menopausal transition. They are not better than a placebo for hot flashes etc. I've been researching this--so there are several articles in the pulldown list at www.hormonejungle.com
you should look at. (heh--I didn't know adrite was posting while I wrote this)
Herbs are totally unregulated. Even known brands sometimes give more than claimed and many give far less or none of what they claim. Each pill can vary wildly in amount. Herbs are not "natural" to the human body. They are as much chemicals as anything else. If they work, then they are powerful chemicals. It's where a lot of drugs came from. If they don't work, it's a waste of money. There's nothing inherently "better" in taking herbs. Supplements are different. We sometimes need help with these naturally occurring substances in our bodies.
Ok, rant over.
I DO use herbs myself, but not for big things if there's an alternative.
So the good news--
Most people find hormonal balance right away or after a minor bit of tinkering. Just work with your pharmacist, listen to your own body, and you'll find your way through. And you know there's a bunch of us camped around the campfire here in the Jungle swapping stories, so you can always come here and ask for flashlights and machetes.