In recent years, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT) has become a popular alternative to standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among women who are experiencing the symptoms of menopause. Marketed by pharmaceutical companies as a “natural” treatment for hormone imbalance, bioidentical hormones are not necessarily a “safe” option for women. In fact, there have been some claims that bioidentical hormones may cause the same side effects as HRT, including increased risks of breast cancer. Read on to learn more about the possible side effects and health risks of bioidentical hormones.
How Do Bioidentical Hormones Work?
Bioidentical hormones are plant-based hormones extracted from yam or soy bean plants. Though they are structurally identical to naturally-occurring hormones, they are engineered in a laboratory. Bioidentical hormones are purported to help treat the symptoms of menopause by restoring natural balances of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and by mimicking the effects of these hormones in the body.
Are Any Bioidentical Hormones Approved by the FDA?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refers to bioidentical hormones as a marketing term not recognized by FDA. At this time, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy drugs have been approved by FDA regulations. No long-term study has been done to test the side effects of bioidentical hormones, resulting in uncertainty about their effectiveness in treating menopausal symptoms and their possible health risks.
The site also notes that pharmacies who manufacture bioidentical hormones are not required to report adverse effects of compounded drugs, which may skew public and medical opinion about the safety and effectiveness of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
What Are the Side Effects of Bioidentical Hormones?
No long-term research has been conducted to determine the health risks associated with bioidentical hormone usage. However, the FDA website notes that there is no convincing data that supports the existence of a diminished risk of developing a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, or gall bladder disease among women using bioidentical hormones, than those using traditional HRT. The site recommends that women using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms should take the lowest dosage available for the shortest amount of time to avoid serious health risks.
Because so little is known about the safety of bioidentical hormone usage, you should consult your healthcare professional before starting treatment. You may also consider alternatives to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for relief from your menopause symptoms. Click here to read more about other ways to treat hormone imbalance.