Font Size
A
A
A

Bioidentical Hormones


Topic Overview

Bioidentical hormones are made in the laboratory and are based on compounds found in plants (usually soy beans or wild yams). Unlike supplements containing soy or wild yam extract, a bioidentical hormone product has been processed by a specially trained compounding pharmacist.

After the plant-based hormone is processed, its structure is said to be identical to the estrogen, progesterone, or androgen hormone your body produces. (Well-designed studies have yet to prove this theory.2) A compounding pharmacist can offer you a custom-made formulation in one of many forms, such as a capsule, skin cream or gel, tablet to dissolve under your tongue, suppository, or nose spray. Some commonly prescribed estrogens and progesterones are bioidenticals, such as Estrace (estradiol).

Just like synthetic hormone replacement therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement is prescribed to increase or stabilize a woman's hormone levels. This is generally done during perimenopause, when hormone levels change unpredictably, and after menopause, when the hormones drop to low levels.

The most important fact to remember about taking bioidentical HRT is that its risks are not yet well understood. It may have the same breast cancer, stroke, blood clot, heart disease, and dementia risks that synthetic HRT has.1

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. North American Menopause Society (2010). Estrogen and progestogen use in postmenopausal women: 2010 position statement of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 17(2): 242–255. Also available online: http://www.menopause.org/PSht10.pdf.

  2. Watt PJ, et al. (2003). A holistic programmatic approach to natural hormone replacement. Family and Community Health, 26(1): 53–63.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last RevisedMay 4, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.






Medical Dictionary