Bioidentical hormone therapy

There has long been a cult of mystique around the advent of menopause in women. Women, differentiated from men by their ability to have children and menstruate, lose that ability when they grow older. Suddenly they are in a state of flux – no longer of child bearing age, yet still – in this day and age – healthy and often vital. When, back in the days of our ancient ancestors, women might not have survived long after the onset of menopause, now women live long, healthy and active lives after menopause sets in. And they want to feel good, vital and happy while doing so. That is where hormone therapies come in. One such hormone therapy for menopausal women is called bioidentical hormone therapy and it will be discussed in detail in this article.

Bioidentical hormone therapy (sometimes called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT) is basically the term for the treatment of the hormone deficiencies caused when a women goes through menopause. Bioidentical hormone therapy uses molecules that are endogenous to the hormones already found in the human body, hence the term “bioidentical.”

You often hear about hormone replacement therapies for women, but bioidentical hormone therapy is different in one supremely important way – it uses human hormones, not the animal or synthetic hormones that are so often used in other popular and conventional forms of hormone replacement therapy.

Bioidentical hormone therapy uses many types of hormones, but the two major hormones used in bioidentical hormone therapy are estradiol and progesterone. Both of these hormones are available in FDA-approved forms. But that is where the controversy swirling around bioidentical hormone therapy comes into play. Both the estradiol and progesterone used in bioidentical hormone therapy are found in what is known as individualized pharmacy compounded products. The controversy around bioidentical hormone therapy zooms in on that small, simple fact.vOpponents of bioidentical hormone therapy do not condone the use of pharmacy compounded products and do not think that any treatments, not just bioidentical hormone therapy, should use them.

On the other hand, bioidentical hormone therapy has plenty of proponents. These proponents all argue that replacing hormones lost from menopause with natural cells found in the body is a much better practice than replacing them with unnatural cells (such as synthetic hormones) or natural cells but ones that are not usually found in the human body (such as animal hormones.) Proponents of bioidentical hormone therapy say that replacing female hormones this way can drastically improve a woman’s health related symptoms and her quality of life. But other scientists have often pointed out that there are no scientific studies or papers that back up these claims.

The hormones used in bioidentical hormone therapy are extracted and synthesized in different ways from different sources. They do all have the same chemical structure as hormones produced in a human’s body , though, which is what makes them bioidentical. Most of the bioidentical hormones used in bioidentical hormone therapy are made by chemically synthesizing them from the molecule diosegnin. Diosegnin is a substance much like cholesterol. Other bioidentical hormones are extracted from a slightly more unusual place – the urine of pregnant mares. Though mares are, of course, not the same as humans, some of the molecules found in mare urine are identical to the molecules in humans, thus the hormones derived from mare urine can still be called bioidentical when used in humans.

If you are feeling the adverse effects of menopause and are considering hormone replacement therapy, consult with your primary care physician about the benefits and risks of bioidentical hormone therapy. As always, be careful with your health and consult a doctor before trying any treatments out.

Last updated on Jul 3rd, 2011 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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