Bioidentical hormones are human-made hormones with similar properties to those produced by the body. These hormones are often used to treat people whose own hormone production is out of balance or low.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones?
In the body, the glands are responsible for producing special chemicals called hormones. They are responsible for guiding the body and its organs on how and when to work. Hormones are responsible for most of the tasks that occur in the body, such as the breakdown of food, growth, brain function, and sex. All sorts of symptoms can be noticed when these hormones are out of balance.
Bioidentical hormones are synthetic or human-made hormones that can be matched to those produced in the body such as progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. Drug companies have developed several prescription forms of bioidentical hormones. Some can be made custom-to-order by pharmacies at the order of a doctor; this is known as compounding.
The FDA has approved different drugs and preparations for bioidentical forms of progesterone and estradiol. They have a similar molecular structure to the ones produced in the body and have been tested thoroughly for purity and safety. Compounded hormones aren’t approved or tested by the FDA. Many pharmacies claim they are made with natural ingredients like yams and soybeans, which is why it is advertised as safe. But, it is important to remember that it does go through processing, which means that the end product is no longer natural. You will find compounded and FDA-approved bioidentical hormones in the form of sprays, gels, creams, pills, and vaginal inserts.
What Are the Uses of Bioidentical Hormones?
Since hormones are such a fundamental part of the human body, their fluctuations can cause a lot of issues in the body. With age, some major hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone do tend to decrease. This is very common with women who have gone through menopause. Some common symptoms of lower levels of hormones in the body include:
Ø Hot flashes
Ø Night sweats
Ø Loss of energy
Ø Lowered or lost interest in sex
Ø Pain during sex
Ø Mood changes
Ø Memory loss
Ø Vaginal dryness
Ø Loss of muscle mass
Ø Weight gain
Ø Foggy thinking
Ø Problems sleeping
Bioidentical hormones are a treatment plan to replace the low levels of the natural hormone. This can help to improve the symptoms exhibited by the body.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Commonly Used?
Compounded bioidentical hormones are used commonly used by women going through menopause. Around 1.5 million women use this treatment, according to the North American Menopause Society. They say that around 40% of all prescriptions for bioidentical hormone therapy are prescribed to women who are going through menopause.
How Are Bioidentical Hormones Administered?
There are many ways to take in these hormones, such as through shots, implanted pellets, gels, creams, patches, and pulls. It is better to consult a doctor on this issue since they can decide which is better for you. Some people even combine methods since that work better for them.
Doctors watch people on hormone treatment very closely. The doses are adjusted according to the needs and symptoms of the patient because the end goal is to give the least amount of hormone therapy needed to accomplish the intention. You may have to get routine urine, saliva and blood tests to monitor your hormone levels.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe to Use?
The bioidentical hormones that are safe to use are ones that have been approved by the FDA since they go through safety testing. The strict standards for bioidentical hormones set by FDA have to be met by companies. Compounded hormones, on the other hand, do not go through FDA testing. Although they are popular, there hasn’t been much research done on them, so their safety is unknown.
Are There Any Risks?
There are some side effects that bioidentical hormones can have. Some research studies show that they can increase the risk of gallbladder disease, strokes, and blood clots. Older women who use hormone treatment for a long period may have an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
FDA has regulations that make sure drug companies report all the potential side effects for a drug, but compound hormones are under no such regulation. The side effects of compound hormones remain unknown due to lack of research, but the FDA approved side effects are known. When the dose is first given, the body may exhibit some side effects since the body isn’t used to these hormones. Many side effects get better as the body adjusts or the dosage is changed. The most common side effects include:
ü Weight gain
ü Blurred vision
ü Increased facial hair (women)
ü Breast tenderness
ü Mood swings
Many people also tend to have red skin or itchiness around the area where they apply the hormone or get the shot on. If you have a bad side effect while on hormone therapy, it is important to call your healthcare provider. Side effects that don't go away after some time or are hard to manage can be an indicator that the level of hormone in the body is too high.
Bioidentical hormones help a lot of people manage their symptoms and conditions around the world. It is vital to stay mindful of what you are taking and learn more about its side effects and production. Even compound hormones can help a lot of people, so it is important to learn more about it before you reject the idea of bioidentical hormones as a treatment plan.