What are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has become a popular alternative to treating menopause symptoms.
In contrast to Prempro®, Provera®, and Premarin®, bioidentical hormones are hormones designed to be an exact match to hormones found in the human body.
Bioidentical or synthetic? Is One treatment safer than the other?
What are bioidentical hormones and side effects of treatment? Since bioidentical hormones are just like the hormones that our bodies are designed to recognize and utilize, their side effects are consistent with our normal biochemistry. Thus, bioidentical hormones have a much less chance of unpredictable side effects at low replacement doses than synthetic, non-bioidentical hormones.
With that said, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. Some women need or want HRT, and some women don't.
Though bioidentical hormones are synthesized in the lab from hormone precursors found in soybeans and yams, the molecular structure of bioidentical hormones are designed to have the same exact chemical structure as hormones in the human body. Some people say that Premarin is a natural product because it's made from horse urine. "Bioidentical" is a term that's more precise than "natural" because the biochemical structure of the hormone hasn't been altered.
Another advantage to bioidentical hormones is that hormones can be prescribed based on a women's test results and symptoms. The prescription is unique to the individual needs and dosages can be adjusted. Also, the patient is only taking what she needs to maintain the optimal levels of hormones in her body.
Bioidentical hormones are available by presciption from compounding pharmacies. The compounding pharmacist basically mixes drugs that are specific to the individual.
These individualized hormones can be taken transdermally, orally, or vaginally. It just depends on what the patient prefers. The transdermal route is usually the best option because it's the more physiologically appropriate to take hormones this way because the hormones will go directly into the bloodstream from the skin.
Natural progesterone cream is a popular transdermal cream used to treat menopausal symptoms. In one study, after a year of using progesterone cream, more than 80 percent of women reported an improvement in their hot flashes, compared with fewer than 20 percent of those using a placebo.
It's the decline in progesterone that's the first hormonal change to cause symptoms in women approaching menopause. Progesterone and estrogen are in a constant counterbalance with each other. It's this decline in progesterone that causes estrogen dominance. The result is symptoms of excess estrogen and progesterone deficiency.
Bioidentical progesterone supplementation can help bring your body back to balance by alleviating symptoms of both estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency.
Bioidentical hormones can't be patented, so there are no financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to do expensive research and develop new products containing bioidentical hormones. The molecular structure of synthetic hormones are altered enough to allow them to be patented. These changes to the three-dimensional structure of the hormone results in biological effects that are still not understood.
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