Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Like most people today, you are concerned about maintaining your health. Until now, growing old was an inevitable and irreversible deterioration of the body, mind and spirit. Yet, recent medical studies have demonstrated that certain age-related conditions can be greatly retarded and even reversed. It is possible to return some of the quality of life lost through the aging process, much of which happens because our bodies stop producing the essential hormones that are plentiful in our youth.
What are bioidentical hormones?
Bio-identical hormones are manufactured in the lab to have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies can’t patent a bio-identical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable (Premarin, Prempro, and Provera being the most widely used examples).
Though bio-identical hormones have been around for years, most practitioners are unfamiliar with them. There are several branded versions now available for use in the kind of hormone replacement therapy typical of synthetic hormones. This is often a one-size-fits-all dosage regime.
In my practice, I have had the greatest success with an individualized approach. I begin with laboratory tests of hormone levels (a so-called “hormone panel”). When warranted, I then prescribe a precise dosage of bioidentical estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and/or DHEA that is prepared at a registered compounding pharmacy. Each patient is then monitored carefully through regular follow-up hormone panels to ensure she gets symptom relief at the lowest possible dosage. In the initial stages, we will do a hormone panel every three months. Once balance is restored, we’ll do one panel a year at the time of the annual exam.
Are bio-identical hormones better than synthetic hormones?
We long ago concluded that the answer to this question is yes. But that doesn’t mean bioidentical hormones are perfect. The great appeal of bioidentical hormones is that they are natural, and our bodies can metabolize them as it was designed to do, minimizing side effects. Synthetic hormones are quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects. Moreover, the compounded bioidentical hormones can be matched individually to each woman’s needs — something that’s just impossible with mass-produced products.
Are bioidentical hormones safer than synthetics?
European medical studies suggest that yes, bio-identical hormones are safer than synthetic versions. This makes perfect sense. But we must be cautious here, because they have not been well studied, especially for long-term use. And in any case, we recommend that women never think of any drug as completely safe. Let us note here that the WHI studies on the effectiveness and health risks of HRT were based on synthetic/equine-based hormones, and the average age of the women at enrollment was 63. These details did make a difference in their risk — read our article on the risks of HRT for our perspective on these studies.
At Utopia Wellness, our goal is to help inform women about their options so that they can make the choice that’s best for them. A woman’s hormonal balance is ideally is a dynamic equilibrium that shifts from day to day, week to week, and through the years. When you give your body the support it needs, it can effectively reset itself, because it’s equipped and programmed for balance and wellness. So we recommend beginning with the gentlest form of support possible to allay your discomfort and tweaking it as you go. We’ll support you in any way we can, each step of the way. The good news is that women can feel incredibly well right through menopause.
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient’s medical history and other factors. Information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or healthcare provider. Statements made about products, therapies or services have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.