What are Bioidentical Hormones?
What women should know about alternatives to traditional hormone-replacement therapy.
When it comes to menopause, hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is always an option. Because synthetically produced hormones have been linked to breast cancer and other issues, many women believe bioidentical hormones to be a safer alternative.
But there is a great deal of misinformation about the safety claims of bioidentical hormones.
Bioidentical hormones come from plant sources and are identical to the hormones your body makes. Bioidenticals can have advantages over synthetics, but there’s really no evidence to prove that they are necessarily safer, particularly relative to diseases like breast cancer. Safety issues are affected by your age, your own medical history, the time you start hormone therapy and the dosage.
However, there are some benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy: For example, natural progesterone lowers blood pressure slightly and can have a calming effect. When natural progesterone is taken at bedtime many women find they sleep much better.
Bioidentical estrogen is available in non-pill forms, including gels, patches, and sprays that are absorbed through the skin. These preparations provide the lowest estrogen doses and have the lowest risk for blood clots.
FDA-approved bioidentical hormones are available through regular pharmacies. They do not have to be compounded, as some may think. There are many reputable compounding pharmacies, but there are concerns with possible inconsistencies in how the drug batches are made, the absence of standard warning labels, and the lack of FDA oversight. It’s important to remember that the use of compound pharmacies for bioidenticals is considered experimental.
So, what’s the bottom line when it comes to HRT?
Hormone-replacement therapy is constantly in a state of change because the data changes as new information becomes available. That’s why your hormone-replacement therapy regime should be reviewed yearly with your healthcare provider.