You're interested in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to help with your unpleasant symptoms of menopause, but you've run across some skeptical commentary online -- including opinions from medical doctors. Skeptics say these all-natural hormones don't work, but the proponents praise the various benefits for health. Who should you believe?
Skeptics vs. Proponents
Skeptics say there's no real evidence that natural plant-based bioidentical hormones work, especially when compared with conventional hormone replacement therapy that uses substances derived from horse urine.
Proponents praise the variety of health benefits, as well as the important aspect that bioidentical hormones are not connected with the development of serious health conditions. Conventional hormone replacement therapy has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
It's true that large-scale studies are still necessary in the realm of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Nevertheless, existing research does indicate its safety and effectiveness.
A review of studies that was published in 2009, for example, found that patients reported better satisfaction with bioidentical progesterone than with the conventional synthetic version of this hormone, known as progestin. In addition, whereas progestin is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, progesterone actually may reduce the risk.
There is some confusion in the general public about whether bioidentical hormones have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The FDA has indeed approved a variety of these products from pharmaceutical manufacturers. With a prescription from your doctor, you can pick these items up at your local drugstore.
If you are working with a physician who prefers to have the blend of estrogen and progesterone compounded into customized dosages, you need to obtain the hormones from a compounding pharmacy. In this case, the final compounded product cannot be FDA-approved, because a pharmacist creates a precise blend specifically for each customer. Nevertheless, the individual hormonal components have FDA approval for safety and effectiveness.
If you're interested in bioidentical hormone therapy, the best place to start is with a doctor, as you'll need a prescription. If you already have a family practice physician or a gynecologist, begin there. If you haven't been to a doctor in a long time, seek out one in your area who is open to prescribing bioidentical hormones. You should be able to find this out with some online research.
The positive effects may not be as rapid and immediately dramatic as the effects of conventional hormone replacement therapy. Nevertheless, you should gradually begin experiencing improvements in symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches, vaginal dryness and fatigue.