What are Bio-Identical Hormones?
Bio-identical hormones have the same molecular structure and function as those naturally occurring in men and women. Bio-identical hormones can be used to replace any synthetic hormone replacement therapy (sHRT) – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormone, DHEA, etc.
Are Bio-Identical Hormones Made Differently than SHRT? Yes.
Bio-identical hormones are usually formulated by a special compounding pharmacist. sHRT are branded and patented pharmaceutical drugs. To obtain a patent for any drug, the molecular structure must be modified from how it occurs in nature. The result is a hormone that looks very similar to the hormone that the body makes but, in fact, is very different in structure and function.
Compounded bio-identical hormones cannot be patented because their molecular structure is the same as they occur in nature. There are several exceptions where bio-identical hormones are used in patented pharmaceuticals (e.g., Prometrium, Estrace) because they have a novel delivery system or some quality that made them unique and ‘patentable’. Unfortunately, these medicines can contain additives, preservatives, dyes and other potential allergens, which make them an unacceptable option for many people. They are also only available in certain doses. Compounded bio-identical hormones are free of undesirable chemicals and doses can be tailored for each individual. In addition, compounded hormones are available in many forms – oral, sublingual, topical, vaginal – whichever works best for each patient.
How Else Are Bio-Identical Hormones Different?
sHRT has more potential to be broken down into harmful metabolites than bio-identical hormones which are identical to the hormones already circulating in your body. Those of us who prescribe bio-identical hormones believe that this is the core reason why sHRT has many of the negative health effects that it does.
When Should Treatment With Bio-Identical Hormones Be Considered?
While dietary and lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs can often resolve symptoms of hormonal imbalance, there are times when hormone replacement is the only option that provides sufficient relief. Hormone imbalance affects women and men of both reproductive and menopausal/andropausal age.
Symptoms can include but are not limited to: difficult menopause, PMS and painful periods, irregular periods, fertility issues, adult acne, endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, abnormal hair growth, weight gain, muscle loss, insomnia, decreased libido, fatigue, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction, bone loss, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, etc. Men can experience much of the above as well as erectile dysfunction.
If you have had cancer BHRT can be considered on a case by case basis.
How Are Hormone Levels Tested?
Blood tests may be recommended to determine the right dosage of bio-identical hormone therapy. The most common initial blood test will include testing for thyroid hormones, DHEAS (a hormone secreted from the adrenal glands and a precursor for sex hormones), testosterone and possibly estrogens and progesterone levels, etc.
Ask IMCI if Bio-Identical Hormones Replacement Therapy is Right For You.
At IMCI, we believe that bio-identical hormones are a vital alternative to sHRT. While they do NOT remove all the risks involved with taking hormones, emerging research shows bio-identical hormones not only relieve hormonal symptoms, they also minimize the negative side effects and long-term health risks associated with sHRT.