What are bioidentical hormones?
Hormones are special chemicals made by parts of the body called glands. They are messengers that tell other parts of the body how and when to work. Hormones control almost all tasks in the body. These include sex and brain function, growth and the breakdown of food. When hormones are out of balance, symptoms can occur.
Bioidentical hormones are defined as man-made hormones that are very similar to the hormones produced by the human body. Common hormones that are matched are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These are then used as treatment for men and women whose own hormones are low or out of balance. Some prescription forms of bioidentical hormones are pre-made by a drug company. Other forms are custom-made by a pharmacist based on a doctor’s order. This is called compounding. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of preparations of bioidentical estradiol and progesterone, which are molecularly identical to the structure of the hormones generated by the human body. They have been through testing for safety and purity and to be sure each dose has the same amount of hormones. The compounded forms have not been tested and approved by the FDA. Though it is often advertised that products that are made from plants like soybeans and yams are “natural” choices, they are altered greatly in a lab so are no longer natural when done with processing.
Why are bioidentical hormones used?
As men and women age, the levels of some key hormones in the body go down. These include estrogen,
progesterone and testosterone. This can lead to certain symptoms. Some are very common to women
who are past the age of having periods (menopause). Some common effects of low hormones include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of interest in sex
- Pain during sex
- Problems sleeping
- Loss of energy
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Foggy thinking
- Mood changes
- Memory loss
hormone levels will increase and symptoms will improve. Currently, national societies and expert
recommendations state that the risks and benefits of conventional and bioidentical hormones should be
considered equal. Your doctor can discuss with you the variety of options available, and guide therapy
based on your preferences