Why bioidentical hormones and what are they?

In 2002 the Women’s Health Institute (WHI) released results of a large study involving 16,608 women ages 50 to 79. These women were given a combination synthetic hormone therapy using Premarin and Provera. Premarin is an estrogen produced from a pregnant mare’s (horse) urine and provera is a progestin (medroxyprogesterone acetate).

In May of 2002 after a mean of 5.2 years of follow-up, the data and safety monitoring board recommended to stop the WHI trial because of the results that revealed increased risk of breast cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke.

Bio-identical hormones are thought to be a safer alternative to the synthetic hormones mentioned above. Bio-identical hormones have been available for over 20 years and there are numerous comprehensive studies that show the safety and low risk of their use. Although the size of the studies is not as large as the WHI study because these studies are not funded by pharmaceutical companies, the data on the safety of bio-identical hormone use is positive. However in any case it is important to be cautious because no drug is completely safe.

Bio-identical hormones are produced from natural sources such as wild yams and soy. They are manufactured in the lab and their biochemical structure is identical to the hormones produced by the human body, hence bio-identical.  This is in contrast to the synthetic hormones manufactured by pharmaceutical companies that are foreign to the body such as premarin and provera.

Bio-identical hormones are used to help with the unpleasant symptoms that women experience in perimenopause, menopause and for premenstrual symptoms, and of men with andropause.

Perimenopause and menopause are often characterized by hot flashes, night sweats, foggy thinking, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, joint pain, headaches, palpitations, hair loss, thinning of the skin, reduced bone density (osteoporosis) and decreased muscle mass.

PMS (premenstrual symptoms) usually occurs anywhere between one to two weeks before the start of menses and the most common symptoms are irritability, swelling and bloating, breast tenderness, sleep disturbances, decreased sex drive, irregular or heavy periods, headaches, sugar cravings, weight gain, anxiety.

Male andropause is the decline of testosterone levels with aging, which result in the symptoms of decreased energy, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, night sweats, depression, bone loss, muscle weakness.

The aim of treating with bio-identical hormones is to alleviate the symptoms of these hormonal imbalances.  The added benefit of bio-identical hormones is that the dosage can be customized to fit the needs of individual patients to mimic as closely as possible the normal hormone levels in the body.

Our goal is to help improve your quality of life by providing a customized individual treatment with the lowest possible risk.

Call Ontario Bioidentical Doctor, Rebecca Bodok, M.D. and learn how bioidentical hormone therapy can help you.