Since the Women's’ Health Initiative (WHI), there has been much interest in other forms of hormone replacement therapy, including “natural” hormones. This desire for alternative therapies has led to an increase interest in bioidentical hormones. A bioidentical hormone is one that is identical in molecular structure to the hormones women make in their bodies. They are not naturally occurring compounds, but are made from either extracted plant chemicals or synthetic compounds. Bioidentical hormone therapy is often called “natural hormone therapy” because bioidentical hormones act in the body just like the hormones we produce.
- Compounded drugs are NOT safer. In fact, since they are individualized and “made to order”, there are no tests of their safety, effectiveness, or dosing consistency.
- When compounding hormones, they are the same hormones as in any other preparation. Therefore, they have then same potential risks and side effects as any other FDA-approved hormone preparations.
- The use of saliva tests to monitor hormone levels are of little to no use, as there is no evidence that hormone levels in saliva correlate with diagnosis or treatment response.
- Lastly, most heath insurances don’t cover compounded drugs.
One major problem with compounded individualized therapy is there is no specific individual range to aim for. As of today, no one knows exactly what hormone levels to aim for. Certain hormones should not be measured, it is the clinical improvement or symptoms, that are gauged, not the levels of the hormones, such as estrogen.
There are situations where compounding medications is a useful and a beneficial option. However, in the majority of patients, pharmaceutical prescriptions are able to safely and properly treat the hormonal dysfunction. If you have read about compounding, or bio-identical hormones, please be aware of some important information.
What about bioidentical hormones?
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