Bioidentical hormones are manufactured in a laboratory, but are similar in molecular structure to hormones made within the body. But how are bioidentical hormones taken, and which hormones do they replace? Read on to find out more about the different methods of taking bioidentical hormones and their effects on menopause.
From Creams to Patches: Producing Bioidentical Hormones
Bioidentical hormones can be found in a variety of forms, from patches and a pill to creams, gels, and sprays. Most forms are commercially available either through prescription or at the drugstore. They can also be compounded, or tailor-made to fit an individual's hormonal needs. The following is a list of the various types of hormones, and ways they can be administered:
A form of estrogen. Natural hormone replacement therapy that aids in preventing menopausal symptoms fights against hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and hair loss. In order to obtain the best result, this hormone is prescribed for shorter lengths of time in menopausal women.
Though all preparations of estrogen are molecularly identical before being introduced into the body, estrogens administered orally are modified by the liver, entered into the bloodstream and converted into estrone. Estrogen is not available by pharmaceutical prescription in Canada or the U.S. but is available as a cream or vaginal suppository in the U.K.
Approved for use by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada, progesterone can be used both orally and transdermally. Microionzied progesterone is available either in capsule form or as a vaginal gel and is approved by the FDA to treat endometrial hyperplasia if used in opposition to estrogen. It is often prescribed in menopause to treat sleep disorders.
Used to improve libido in postmenopausal women, commercial sources of testosterone are limited in the U.S. However, commercially prepared forms of estrogen and testosterone are made for women. Testosterone is also used to reduce excess high density liproprotein (a type of cholesterol). A patch has been approved for use in the U.K., but in the U.S. and Canada it awaits safety testing.
Because of a lack of extensive studies, the safety of bioidentical hormones has been met with controversy. These hormones may have potentially serious adverse effects and must be prescribed by a doctor or healthcare professional. Click on the links below to read more information about bioidentical hormones.