Suzanne Somers, in her books, Ageless, The Sexy Years, and Breakthrough, introduced many American women to the concept of bioidentical hormones. Add the stamp of approval from Oprah, and you have a winner. However, at the end of the day, hormone replacement therapy is as individual as the woman who is taking it. There is a variety of different hormone therapies and they all work differently. Each woman responds to bioidential hormone therapy (bHRT) according to her own unique physiology. While many women respond positively, others need a different type of support to achieve the same results.
Manufactured in a lab, bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as hormones produced in the body. Synthetic hormones are different by design. Since drug companies cannot patent bioidentical hormones, synthetic hormones were invented to allow for patents and, by extension, more money. Bioidentical hormones have been around for years, but most practitioners have not been aware of them. There are several brands of bHRT available now; however, they are pretty much the one-size-fits-all type of HRT that is similar to synthetic HRT.
Taking An Individualized Approach
Some doctors and clinics prefer to take a more individualized approach and treat each woman uniquely. A lab test of hormone levels is done and a precise dosage of bioidentical estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and/or DHEA is prescribed. Careful monitoring by way of follow-up hormone level tests help to keep the results excellent with the lowest dosage possible. The levels are checked quarterly and then, after everything has stabilized, the test is done yearly. This way, a woman's individual hormonal needs are taken into consideration as opposed to prescribing a mass-produced HRT.
Natural Is Better
Bioidentical hormones are not perfect, but they are natural and the body is able to absorb them in the fashion it is designed to-so the side effects are minimal. Synthetic hormones are strong and the side effects are intense and often unbearable. Bioidentical hormones can be matched very closely to the woman's hormones, whereas synthetic hormones do not have that capability. European studies indicate that bioidentical hormones are safer than synthetic hormones. However, they have not been studied for long-term usage. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to support the efficacy and safety of bioidentical hormones.
No Drug Usage Is Best
Even though bioidentical hormones can seem miraculous, it is possible and even better to address hormonal imbalances without the use of drugs or HRT. With a combined approach of medical-grade nutritional supplements, support for the endocrine system, along with dietary and lifestyle changes, a woman can find a great deal of relief from menopausal symptoms. If, after applying this approach there is minimal relief, then it is appropriate to begin adding to the regimen until a satisfactory level of balance has been achieved.
It is important to remember that bioidentical hormones are not a fountain of youth and, as with all types of HRT, continued use should be evaluated and used as necessary for symptom relief.