What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

Understanding Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

It has been said that "everything gets better with age." While that may be true for fine wine or cured meats, the adage is less accurate when applied to human body.

For many people, middle age is when the body begins to show the wear and tear of the years gone by—signs of aging commonly related to hormonal imbalances. As you age, production of your natural hormones may be impaired. The body may produce too little of one hormone and too much of another. When hormone levels are below normal—and keep in mind that "normal" is different for every person—uncomfortable symptoms appear and unhealthy conditions or diseases may develop. Your quality of life diminishes and you wonder if you can ever reclaim that vibrant, energized person you were just a few short years, or perhaps even, just months, ago.

Bio-identical hormone therapy can help you feel better.

Why are Bioidentical Hormones Useful?

Hormone replacement therapy has become the preferred treatment for restoring hormonal balance and reducing or eliminating the signs and symptoms that classically accompany aging. From the discomforts of menopause in women, such as hot flashes, weight gain, and mood swings to the unwelcome effects of andropause in men, including muscle loss, fatigue and erectile dysfunction, bioidentical hormones have proven effective.

Bio-identical hormones are a form of hormone therapy that has gained popularity over the last two decades, helping men and women achieve hormonal balance without the side effects commonly associated with synthetic hormones. The popularity of bio-identical hormone therapy is more than just a passing fad. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, bioidentical hormones are compounded hormones derived from naturally-occurring sources, such as soy or yams. Bioidentical hormones are designed to be structurally indistinguishable from the natural hormones made by the human body—this is where the term "bioidentical" is accurately applied. This exact-match replication reduces side effects and risks, as well as enhance effectiveness of the treatment.

How are Compounded Bioidentical Hormones Made?

Bioidentical hormones are compounded at a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacies operate under guidelines established by the FDA. Compounded hormones are specifically made by a compounding pharmacist in the exact strength and dosage as prescribed by the attending practitioner. Bioidentical hormones, in most cases, cannot be patented and made into mass prescription forms by large pharmaceutical companies. Instead, doses are carefully determined after an experienced and highly-trained hormone therapy practitioner meets with the patient to review and discuss their medical history, symptoms, lifestyle and lab results. This information ensures that patients get a treatment plan and prescriptions that meet the specific needs of their body. Hormonal balance is not achieved by meeting some ubiquitous standard of normal—balance is reached when optimal function is restored for the individual person.

Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe?

Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT) is a safer, more effective alternative to synthetic hormones. A large number of research studies have uncovered evidence that bioidentical hormones result in fewer side effects or negative outcomes when compared to synthetic hormones. However, it is important to remember that no drug, supplement or herb is 100 percent safe or recommended for every individual. This why it is vital that when you seek hormone therapy, you choose an expert medical practitioner who has advanced training in hormone health and who will take the time to understand your condition and medical history before administering treatment.

One of the largest studies every conducted on hormone therapy was the 1991 Women's Health Initiative (WHI)1. The hormone therapy trial hypothesized that estrogen or estrogen-progesterone therapy would reduce the risk of heart disease and fractures in women. The study used o-estrogen and progestin—synthetic forms of each hormone. In 2002, the study was halted because the treatment resulted in an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer. Though the study has been thoroughly reviewed by the scientific community and chastised for its poor methods—many of the study's participants were over age 60—the trial staked a misguided reputation on all forms hormone therapy for many decades.

Today, many small studies have examined the efficacy of bioidentical hormones2, 3, 4, 5. The results show that for symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and anxiety, bioidentical hormones are safe and effective when administered under the care and supervision of medical practitioner. BHT carries less risk of negative effects on clinical outcomes related to breast, bone, cardiovascular and brain health than synthetic hormones4, 5. Due to its safety and effectiveness, the prevalence of BHT use is growing in the United States as well as in countries around the world.

What do Bioidentical Hormones do for You?

Reversing the signs and discomforts of aging is just one benefit of bioidentical hormone therapy. Diseases and conditions, such as thyroid disorders, erectile dysfunction, insomnia, depression, anxiety and muscle weakness may be treated with bioidentical hormone therapy. In some cases, low energy, weight gain and muscle loss are attributed to hormone imbalance and may be addressed with a comprehensive treatment plan that includes bioidentical hormone therapy.

Treatment plans may include therapy using estrogen, progesterone, testosterone or a combination of hormones. For specific conditions, such as thyroid disorders, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) may be supplemented.

The hormones of the human body are designed to work in perfect harmony—quantity of available hormone is essential to perfect function. As the body ages or is plagued by a disease that alters hormone production, one or two hormones can fall out of sync. Your body's efforts to function with the imbalance can lead to discomfort, disease, or a diminished quality of life. Bioidentical hormones can do for you, what synthetic treatments cannot. They can ideally replicate and replace the missing hormones in your body, restoring optimal function, not just achieving some obscure standard of "normal."

Are Bioidentical Hormones the Best Choice?

Only you can decide if bioidentical hormone therapy is the best choice for your health. The expert practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network are here to help you re-discover your best, healthiest self. In many cases, the best treatment plan includes bioidentical hormones. When you choose BodyLogicMD for your care, you are making a choice to consult with a medical professional who specializes in hormonal balance and optimizing function of the human body.

Following testing, your practitioner will sit down with you and discuss in detail the results of your lab tests. Your doctor will review your medical history as well as spend time with you to understand your lifestyle, symptoms, and your goals for treatment. Together, the two of you will evaluate the various therapies that are available to treat your medical concerns and enhance your wellbeing. It is this thorough review and understanding of your unique needs and preferences that set BodyLogicMD apart from other bioidentical hormone doctors. Bioidentical hormone therapy is not the only solution to maximize your health. Your doctor may also incorporate a variety of pharmaceutical grade supplements or medicinal herbs, as well as customized nutrition and fitness regimens to support achievement of your goals.

Healthy is a way of life. It is not achieved by popping a pill every day, drinking a kale smoothie on the weekends, or even running a marathon once a year. It is practiced and continual dedication to proven ideologies—like daily nutrition and fitness—and advanced therapies that support health, such as bioidentical hormone therapy. The practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network are dedicated to partnering with you to reach your health goals and live your best life.

1 A Critique of Women's Health Initiative Studies (2002-2006)
2 Effectiveness of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Observational Cohort Study
3 Efficacy and Tolerability of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
4 A Comprehensive Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Bioidentical Hormones for the Management of Menopause and Related health Risks
5 Bioidentical Hormones: An Evidence-Based Review for Primary Care Providers

Updated October 18, 2018

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