Bio-Identical Hormones

December 22, 2009

There is nothing like an endorsement from a famous celebrity to make a concept take wings and fly. Suzanne Somers, in her books, Ageless, The Sexy Years, and Breakthrough, talks about how bio-identical hormones relieved her menopausal symptoms and restored her youth. Oprah has also recently brought bio-identical hormones to center stage on her show and, suddenly, women are flocking to clinics to see if they will work for them.

Bioidentical Hormone Treatment-What Is It?

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT) has been used successfully for many years in some places in the US. However, the real success lies in creating a system that works for the individual woman rather than a "one-size-fits-all" method of addressing menopausal issues. There are a variety of bHRT methods and treatments and each works in a different way since each woman responds to the treatment according to her own physiology. Sometimes, bHRT is not enough and other treatments need to be added to support the bHRT.

Manufactured in a lab, bioidentical hormones are developed to have the same molecular structure as the hormones produced in the body. Synthetic hormones are produced differently and the difference is intentional. Since drug companies cannot patent a bioidentical structure, they have to invent synthetic hormones that they can patent. Some examples of synthetic, patented, hormones are Premarin, Prempro, and Provera. All of these products are well known and widely used.

bHRT Need Not Be The First Step

Before a woman heads off into the world of bHRT, it is important for her to know that it is possible to rebalance her hormones without the use of bHRT, or any HRT at all. It has been found that about 85% of women seeking bHRT can be helped using a natural approach combining medical-grade nutritional supplements, gentle endocrine support, and dietary and lifestyle changes. This should be the foundation and starting place for all women, rather than jumping headlong into HRT of any sort.

Better Than Synthetic Drugs

While not perfect, bioidentical hormones seem to be better than synthetics because they are natural and the body can metabolize them in the manner they are designed to work. The side effects, therefore, are minimal. Synthetic hormones, different from human hormones, tend to be quite strong and often cause side effects that are intolerable. Furthermore, bioidentical hormones can be compounded to match a woman's hormones exactly, something that cannot be done with synthetic hormones.

When it comes to safety, European medical studies suggest bioidentical hormones are safer than synthetics. The conclusion makes sense. However, since they have not been studied for long-term usage in the US, a statement as to the safety of the products cannot yet be made. It is wise for women never to think any drug is entirely safe.

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