With celebrity endorsements from Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey, today bioidentical hormones are an incredibly popular approach to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and low libido. One reason is bioidentical hormones avoid high doses of estrogen common to conventional HRT drugs like Prempro. Early research suggests they may even be safer with less breast/uterine cancer risk than traditional drugs. Common side effects like weight gain and mood swings are often dramatically reduced, too. How are bioidentical hormones unique?
Bioidentical hormones are synthesized from plant sources and are chemically identical to what is produced in the body. Estradiol, estrone, estriol, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone are all available. Some bioidenticals are FDA approved and sold in a standardized dosage. However, most are produced on a case-by-case basis. Your physician tests your blood or saliva in order (sometimes at different times of day) to develop the formula for you to reach a targeted level of hormones. A compounding pharmacist then produces a customized hormone Rx in the exact proportions that your body needs.
Natural physicians recommend a few follow-up hormone panels to make sure you are getting your relief at the lowest, safest possible dosage. Some men are also using bioidentical hormones like DHEA and testosterone for help with andropausal issues like low energy, loss of muscle mass or sexual dysfunction.
The best source for information on bioidentical hormones: I like www.salivatest.com. and www.johnleemd.com
Update: Wyeth pharmaceuticals has petitioned the FDA to ban bioidentical estriol (most think to boost sales of its HRT drug, Prempro). However, no adverse event had ever been associated with its estriol. As of this writing, the proposed ban is not in effect.