Women's Healthcare of Georgia Facebook Page

Services > Bioidentical Hormones

Bioidentical Hormones

Overview

Bioidentical hormones are hormones that are made to mimic the molecular hormone structure in a woman’s body. These hormones are made in a lab, but are different than synthetic hormones because synthetic hormones are intended to be different than the hormones in a patient’s body. Bioidentical hormones are used in hormone therapy treatments prescribed during menopause or prior to menopause to correct problems related to hormone imbalance.

Bioidentical hormones are medications, some of which are made by drug companies and FDA approved, while others are made by compounding pharmacies on a case-by-case basis for patients. These individualized treatments allow a doctor to control exactly what dose of each hormone patients receive. If your doctor suggests using a personalized compound, make sure he or she has checked out the pharmacy that will create and provide the product. Some doctors feel more comfortable using only FDA-approved products, while others believe the benefits of properly constructed, personalized compounds outweigh any risks.

Bioidentical hormones are usually not the first line of defense when there is a hormone imbalance, but they can be a very effective solution for hormone-based problems. If patients have tried other methods of hormone rebalancing, such as weight loss, nutrition supplements, diet changes, and lifestyle changes without success, bioidentical hormones serve as the final boost a patient’s body might need. Most doctors choose a combination of natural treatments to balance hormones and add bioidentical hormones where assistance is still needed.

Benefits of Bioidentical Hormones

Studies have shown that bioidentical hormones are safer than synthetic hormones because the body is able to metabolize them better. This cuts down on the side effects often associated with synthetic hormones. Bioidentical hormones are also not as strong as synthetic hormones and can be altered to meet the needs of individualized patients.



Risks of Bioidentical Hormones

Though bioidentical hormones are considered safer than other options, there are still risks involved. Individual hormone therapies have not been approved by the FDA. Many doctors believe this does not mean that bioidentical hormone compounds are unsafe. It just means there have been fewer studies on this type of hormone therapy than there have been on synthetic hormones.

Many doctors are also unwilling to prescribe bioidentical or synthetic hormones to patients who have had or have a high risk of having breast cancer. Some patients who have had cancer can tolerate low-dose bioidentical hormones. If you believe hormone therapy can help you, but you are concerned about cancer risk, speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with your personal situation. In general, hormone use has been linked to cancer, but the studies connecting the two were not done on bioidentical hormones.

How Do You Know If You Need Bioidentical Hormones?

Saliva testing is available for patients who show symptoms of a hormone imbalance, but blood tests are considered more accurate. Blood tests also make it possible to diagnose specific imbalances and determine the best course of treatment.

The goal of prescribing bioidentical hormone therapy is to help a woman’s body reset itself. Hormone balance changes from day to day and varies throughout the month and with age. Ideally, bioidentical hormones support the body’s natural function and help it gain balance. This is why most doctors begin with the lowest and most gentle option available, increasing strength only when completely necessary.

Typically, bioidentical hormones are needed during menopause when the body begins to change and hormone creation becomes imbalanced. This imbalance can result in many of the common symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and hair growth. Long-term hormone imbalance can also lead to serious health problems.

For some women, hormonal imbalance begins long before menopause. While hormonal imbalance during menopause is a relatively normal part of the transition, imbalances during childbearing years are considered abnormal. In order to return the system to normal and to reduce the risk of infertility, doctors can prescribe hormone therapy. In some cases, birth control pills are used as hormone therapy, but if a woman wishes to become pregnant, this is not an option. Using individualized hormone compounds to balance a woman’s system can be very effective.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to menopause or you have other symptoms that might be related to a hormone imbalance, even though menopause has not yet begun, speak with your doctor about possible solutions. Every woman’s body is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for hormone imbalance. The doctors at Women’s Health Care of Georgia can help you better understand the risks and benefits of bioidentical hormones, and can prescribe a course of treatment that is suitable for fixing your specific problem.