Bioidentical hormones

Overview

Bioidentical hormones are specially processed hormones designed to closely mimic those produced by your body’s glands. They are often recommended for individuals experiencing symptoms of low or unbalanced hormones, such as those occurring during perimenopause or menopause. Hormones, which are chemicals produced by the endocrine glands, act as messengers, directing various body functions. Even minor imbalances can lead to significant symptoms, prompting healthcare providers to suggest hormone replacement therapy.

Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) involves the use of hormones derived from plants, commonly including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Some forms of bioidentical hormones are pre-manufactured and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while others are custom-compounded by pharmacists based on a healthcare provider’s prescription. It’s important to note that these compounded forms have not undergone FDA testing and approval, despite often being marketed as “natural” due to their plant origins.

Both FDA-approved and compounded bioidentical hormones are available in various forms, including pills, creams, gels, sprays, and vaginal inserts. It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine which type and form of BHRT is most suitable for you. While the term “natural” is frequently used, the processing these hormones undergo in a lab means they are no longer in their natural state.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

Aging causes your body to produce fewer of several hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are some of these hormones. Low hormone levels frequently have the following effects:

  • Fatigue.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Less of interest in sex
  • Memory loss or confusion.
  • Mood changes.
  • Night sweats.
  • Painful intercourse.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Weight gain.

Bioidentical hormone therapy aims to replenish depleted or low hormones, often resulting in symptom improvement for many patients. However, the claim that bioidentical hormones are as effective as traditional hormone treatments lacks robust support from existing data. When discussing hormone replacement options, your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and medical history, weighing the pros and cons of different treatments. Despite some bioidentical hormones lacking FDA approval and sparking controversy, your healthcare provider may still explore them as a potential therapy option for you.

Hormone treatment might not be safe if you have had any of the following problems or are at high risk for them:

  • Blood clotting disorders.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Heart diseases.
  • Stroke.

Risk

The decision to use hormone therapy should be made collaboratively between you and your healthcare provider after considering the potential risks and benefits. Bioidentical hormones, though controversial and often not FDA-approved, might still be considered by your healthcare provider as a treatment option.

However, hormone therapy may not be safe if you have or are at high risk for any of the following conditions:

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Heart or cardiovascular disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Stroke

Procedure

There are several kinds of bioidentical hormones. Among them are:

  • Pills.
  • Patches.
  • Creams.
  • Gels.
  • Shots.
  • Implanted pellets.

Whichever approach is best for you will be determined by your healthcare provider. Before you find a method that works for you well, you may test a few other approaches.

Patients receiving hormonal treatment are regularly monitored by their healthcare providers. The objective is to reduce symptoms as much as possible in the shortest length of time while using the lowest dose. Your healthcare provider may recommend routine testing of your blood, urine, or saliva to measure your hormone levels. Your changing hormone demands may require a healthcare provider to modify your dosage.

The FDA advises against using a woman’s typical hormone levels, which might vary day to day, to determine how much hormone treatment to provide. Specifically, there is evidence that salivary hormone levels vary and are not correlated with menopausal symptoms.

The duration of action for hormone replacement therapy differs. In a few weeks, some people could get a slight sense of relief. Generally speaking, any kind of hormone treatment takes three months to fully take effect.

Outcome

The FDA has thoroughly assessed the safety of authorized bioidentical hormones, confirming their suitability for individuals and meeting stringent FDA standards. Nonetheless, hormone therapy carries inherent risks. Even with FDA approval, it’s crucial for you and your healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of such treatment.

While bioidentical hormones may be effective for some, outcomes can vary based on your medical history and symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable form of hormone therapy for you. In certain cases, your doctor might advise against bioidentical hormones and recommend a more conventional hormone replacement treatment.

Should you experience any adverse effects from hormone dosages, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Persistent or unmanageable side effects may indicate elevated hormone levels. To gain insight into what to expect from hormone treatment, have a discussion with your healthcare provider beforehand.