What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) treats hormonal imbalances with natural hormones rather than chemically manufactured or altered ones. Hormonal imbalance is most often caused by menopause, and at any given time, more than 40 million American women are experiencing some stage of menopause.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Facts
- Hormones are extracted from plants and vegetables rather than lab created.
- Balances hormones to relieve symptoms of menopause or other hormonal imbalance.
- Often prescribed as a cream rather than a pill.
How does BHRT work?
Bioidentical hormones are designed to have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. They are made from natural extracts, often coming from soy or yams. Conversely, synthetic hormones like Premarin and Provera are intentionally different. Pharmaceutical companies can't patent a bioidentical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that can be patented. Often, bioidentical hormones are creams that are rubbed in the skin which many feel is a more natural method of delivering the hormones than swallowing a pill. Some physicians feel that synthetic hormones carry harsh side effects and can even increase a patient's risk for certain cancers which led to the development of bioidentical hormones.
A great benefit of bioidentical hormones is that because they are natural, your body can metabolize them as it was designed to do with little or no side effects. Many synthetic hormones are quite powerful and often produce difficult side effects.
Your physician will typically take some blood work or send you to a lab to have blood work done to determine your hormone levels and decide which hormones and at what strength are appropriate to help overcome the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
What are the risks?
Although the benefits of HRT are well documented, uncertainty still remains regarding its risks. Only about 20 percent of postmenopausal women use HRT long-term. This is partly due to unresolved questions about HRT, its potential cause for breast cancer and intolerable side effects.
How much does BHRT cost?
The fees vary too greatly to even estimate but you should expect 3 different bills. There is a charge for the visit to the physician and another for the lab to process your blood work which is taken to determine what hormones you need. Finally, there is the cost for the hormones themselves from the pharmacist.
Classic symptoms of menopause include:
Symptoms of menopause may begin to occur five to seven years before menopause, when the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones decreases.