What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which is sometimes referred to as “natural hormone therapy,” is a form of alternative medicine– the practice of using chemicals derived from plant tissues to create identical hormones to those endogenous to the human body, in an effort to produce positive results and better health. These hormones are often compounded into gels, creams, and pill form so that they can be absorbed by the human body.
The plant-derived hormones are the same, on a molecular level, as the hormones produced by the human body, and therefore can create beneficial results for those who are treated with such therapy. Examples of produced hormones often used in BHRT include estrone, estradiol, and progesterone.
Hormone replacement therapy often includes the use of blood and saliva testing, along with pharmaceutical compounding to achieve optimum success ensuring the proper level of hormones is attained and maintained. This practice is used mostly in the U.S. and it should be noted that the compounding process is still in its medical infancy, as is understanding the results of saliva and blood testing for the purposed of BHRT. In some instances, FDA-approved products are utilized for patient therapy.
It’s important to understand that not all claims of bioidentical hormone therapy success have been confirmed scientifically, and that potential patients should consult with providers who have documented success in the arena of hormone therapy.
It is not uncommon for international providers rely on the use of hormones like testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and estriol, the use of which are strictly limited or not allowed in the United States.
Why should I consider Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
As people age, the production of hormones in the human body slows and can result in physiological and emotional changes that affect our health and lifestyles.
Especially after menopause, women experience symptoms including hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia, changes in libido, moodiness, irritability, weight gain, and anxiety. Men experience the male version of menopause, known as andropause, which can include signs of low testosterone such as loss of strength and muscle mass, moodiness, decreased sexual function, and loss of cognition.
Along with the use of lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and exercise regimen and traditional supplements, BHRT can be used to ease to symptoms associated with losing the body’s natural supply of estradiol, estrone, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and pregnenolone, among other therapies. An experienced provider will customize a hormone replacement regimen to meet the specific needs of your body, which can offer you the benefits of feeling better, being healthier, and enjoying a more productive life.
Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy associated with the use of synthetic hormones?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy should not be confused with the use of synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones do not match those of the human body in the same ways that Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy hormones do, and they contain differences at a molecular level that the body may reject. In addition, synthetic hormones may increase the risk of certain fatal diseases, alone or in combination with other drugs. Among these diseases are breast cancer, coronary artery disease, strokes, and blood clots.
BHRT is touted for its abilities to relieve the symptoms and stresses of menopause and osteoporosis. Those who receive such treatment should understand that the risks and benefits are comparable to those of other medications, including treatment regimens which incorporate synthetic hormones, which may be more heavily regulated have more extensive research to offer.
What are the most common uses of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Perhaps the best documented treatment of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is the use of progesterone, known for its improved safety profile over artificial progestogens. (It should be noted that there are no studies that directly compare progestins with this treatment.)
How does traditional medicine view Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
A number of organizations, including the International Menopause Society, The Endocrine Society, and the United States Food and Drug Administration, as well as the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Medical Association, have noted a lack of evidence concerning the benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. There is speculation that the risks of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy therapy may differ from those of nonbioidentical treatments. There may also be risks related to the process of compounding. At issue is that manufacturers and compound pharmacists are not required to provide package inserts explaining adverse effects. Many medical practitioners feel this could lead deception of patients and harm and, due to lack of study, the true impact is unknown.
Conventional hormone replacement therapy, in contrast to compounding, does require pharmacies to include safety information via package inserts and labeling.
For these reasons, we feel that it is exceptionally important to work with a compounding pharmacy that offers extreme care in creating treatments for our patients and one that has an exceptional reputation.
Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy safe?
With regular monitoring and expect overseeing, the answer is yes. It is our goal to bring your hormones to healthy levels, based on a treatment plan that is customized to you, specifically. We will require lab testing and will follow up often to check your progress and health.
We will monitor the way individual hormones are affecting your well being, and how multiple hormones interact with one another in your body. As a patient, we will ask that you notify us of any changes you notice, or problems that you have throughout the process. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works well for you, will not work well for every patient, so you will be making a commitment to keep in touch and let us know about any changes you are experiencing so that dosage levels can be adjusted and further evaluation can be completed as needed.
It’s a combination of communication, monitoring, and interaction that will create success for each patient, and we are dedicated to that success and your well-being.