Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant sources that have the same biochemical structure as our own natural hormones. Because they are identical from a structural standpoint they function in a similar fashion and do not interfere with, displace or replace our natural hormones. Because of this, their action is gentler and associated with less adverse affects compared to traditional synthetic hormones. Why have you not heard of B-HRT as an option for managing your menopausal symptoms? Well, one major reason is that these plant based alternatives can not be patented and mass manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Keep in mind that majority of the medical research performed in our country is funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers. On the flip side of the coin is that the research on this type of hormonal replacement is in it’s infancy and long term studies are still lacking. The studies that are present argue that B-HRT is a safer, more natural alternative to synthetic hormone therapy.
Our bodies make 3 main types of estrogens.
Seveal examples of common forms of bio-identical estrogens are the FDA approved pharmaceutical forms of estradiol such as Estrace and Vivelle patch or Bi-est and Tri-est which are prepared by a compounding pharmacist.
A variety of “natural” progesterone preparations are available on the market. Many of the non-prescription bought progesterone creams do not contain any activated progesterone. Because of this, I recommend using the prescription strength progesterone prescribed by your health care provider and compounded by a special pharmacist to best meet your unique needs. Do not confuse progesterone with it’s synthetic counterpart, progestin. Unlike bio-identical progesterone, progestins have more potential adverse affects including; breast tenderness, acne, swelling, weight changes, nausea, increased risk for blood clots and so on. Transdermal progesterone creams are becoming increasingly popular for balancing hormones in women that are estrogen dominant.