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Bioidentical Hormones

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Topic Overview

Bioidentical hormones are made in a laboratory. They are based on compounds found in plants (usually soybeans or wild yams).

After the plant-based hormone is processed, its structure is said to be identical to the estrogen, progesterone, or androgen hormone your body makes. (Well-designed studies have yet to prove this theory.1) A compounding pharmacist can offer you a custom-made formulation in one of many forms. You might get a capsule, a skin cream or gel, a tablet to dissolve under your tongue, a suppository, or a nose spray. Some commonly prescribed estrogens and progesterones are bioidenticals, such as Estrace (estradiol). There's a major difference between custom-made formulations and commercial products. Commercial products are regulated and tested for purity and potency, but compounding pharmacies are not.2

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Hormone Replacement Therapy: Benefits and Risks

Many women say hot flashes and night sweats are the worst menopause symptoms. They can steal your sleep and wreak havoc on your waking hours, too. The sudden heat, which usually lasts from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, can make your heart pound, leave you red in the face and chest, and wake you up drenched. If you want relief, "hormone therapy is the most effective treatment," says JoAnn E. Manson, MD, a professor at Harvard Medical School. Hot flashes and other menopause symptoms happen when your...

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Just like synthetic hormone therapy, bioidentical hormones are prescribed to increase or stabilize a woman's hormone levels. This is most often done during perimenopause, when hormone levels change unpredictably. It's also done after menopause, when the hormones drop to low levels.

The most important fact to remember about taking bioidentical hormones is that the risks are not yet well understood. They may have the same breast cancer, stroke, blood clot, heart disease, and dementia risks that synthetic hormone therapy has.1

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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