With so much marketing out there, it can be difficult to understand the different hormone options out there. Bioidentical hormones are identical to the hormones your body naturally produces. They come from natural sources like plants. Bioidenticals can help reduce symptoms of menopause and hormone imbalances by helping bring your hormone levels into healthy ranges. There are also many different bioidentical options to choose from for treating your symptoms. For example, our provider may prescribe bioidentical estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone to help you feel better. In any case, if you’re interested in bioidentical hormone therapy, it’s important to learn more about bioidenticals.
You’ve likely heard of so-called “natural” hormones for relieving symptoms of hormone imbalance. However, it’s important to distinguish between these products and bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical hormones are natural, as they come from plant sources. However, bioidenticals take this a step further by being molecularly identical to human hormones. They’re altered to match the hormones that the human body produces.
By contrast, “natural” marketing campaigns can apply to almost any hormone, as most come from natural sources. For example, yam-based creams are natural. In addition, a commonly prescribed form of estrogen is actually made from horse urine. However, this is also considered natural. The difference is that these options aren’t bioidentical to the hormones your body produces.
Unfortunately, many of the hormones marketed as natural hormone imbalance treatment may not be effective. In some cases, your body can’t convert or use the hormones in these natural (but not bioidentical) options. This means that they likely won’t be effective at soothing or reducing your symptoms. Also, perhaps more concerning, is that some can cause side effects that may be even worse than the symptoms they claim to relieve.
Instead, bioidentical hormones are the same molecular shape, make up, and structure as hormones made in the human body. Essentially, your cells recognize these hormones because they look and act exactly like the hormones your body produces. Synthetic and natural versions that aren’t bioidentical may only resemble what your cells are familiar with. This may make them less effective than bioidentical options.
So, why choose bioidenticals for hormone imbalance treatment during menopause? As we age, we begin to produce less and less estrogen and progesterone. These declining hormone levels cause your periods to stop. This can also lead to a whole host of life-altering symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy is one of the most effective ways to reduce symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, that may affect your quality of life by making it difficult to sleep and concentrate or lead to mood changes or uncomfortable intercourse.
Bioidentical hormones can help bring your estrogen and progesterone levels into healthy ranges, which may reduce or relieve symptoms of menopause. Since bioidenticals are generally well-tolerated and may help with symptoms, they are a common treatment for menopause.
If you have menopause symptoms but still have your uterus, then you will likely use combination hormone imbalance treatment. This means both estrogen and progesterone. This is because estrogen alone can cause the lining of your uterus to thicken, which may increase your risk for endometrial cancer. Progesterone can help control this and keep the uterine lining thin. However, if you don’t have a uterus, then you may only need estrogen hormone therapy for your symptoms.
While there are pros and cons to taking bioidentical hormones or hormone therapy of any kind, most doctors agree that the benefits outweigh the risks for women taking hormones who are under 60 years old and within ten years of menopause. However, taking bioidentical hormones is an individual choice, so our provider will discuss options and recommendations based on your specific circumstances and health status.
A common misconception is that bioidentical hormones aren’t FDA-approved. It may surprise you to learn that many of the hormones doctors prescribe today are bioidentical. Bioidentical hormones are hormones derived from plants and altered in a lab to be identical to human hormones. They come in both pharmacological forms and compounded forms. While one form is FDA-approved, the other is not. This comes down to how they’re formulated into a treatment, as well as consistency and control standards during mixing.
Pharmacological bioidentical hormones have a mass quantity manufacturing process with quality and safety regulations. This means that pharmacological bioidenticals offer quality and consistency for each dose. Because of the strict quality and safety standards involved with the process, the FDA has approved several bioidentical hormones. These include forms of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. With pharmacological bioidentical hormones, you know exactly which hormones you’re taking and how much. This may not be so with compounded hormone mixtures.
What many think of when they hear the term “bioidentical hormones” is hormone compounding. These are hormone treatments that a compounding pharmacy mixes, often with various amounts of different types of hormones. While compounded mixtures use bioidentical hormones that are FDA-approved on their own, the final product is not. This is because the FDA cannot regulate the quality and safety of each individual mixture and the amount of each hormone can change with each batch.
At HerKare, our team listens and understands your health concerns. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause or hormone imbalance, we are here to help find underlying causes and help you feel better with personalized treatment plans. We also work with you to monitor your progress on your treatment plan and make adjustments to help you feel better. Our team is with you every step of the way to help find solutions to your health concerns and questions. Our goal is to help you improve your wellness and quality of life. Reach out today to schedule an appointment and discuss your health concerns with one of our compassionate women’s health care providers.