Bioidentical hormones are made in
the laboratory and are based on compounds found in plants (usually soybeans or
After the plant-based hormone is
processed, its structure is said to be identical to the
androgen hormone your body produces. (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, such
as a capsule, skin cream or gel, tablet to dissolve under your tongue,
suppository, or nose spray. Some commonly prescribed estrogens and
progesterones are bioidenticals, such as Estrace (estradiol). A major difference between custom-made formulations and commercial products is that commercial products are
regulated and tested for purity and potency and compounding pharmacies are not.2
Not all women experience symptoms prior to or following menopause, which is defined as the time when a woman has naturally ceased having menstrual periods for one year. If menopausal symptoms occur, they may include hot flashes, night sweats, pain during intercourse due to vaginal dryness, and increased anxiety or irritability.
Just like synthetic hormone therapy, bioidentical hormones
are prescribed to increase or stabilize a woman's hormone levels.
This is generally done during perimenopause, when hormone levels change
unpredictably, and after menopause, when the hormones drop to low levels.
The most important fact to remember about taking bioidentical HT
is that its risks are not yet well understood. It may have the same breastcancer, stroke, blood clot, heart disease, and dementia risks that synthetic HT has.1