What is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy?
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is the use of supplemental doses of hormones with an identical chemical structure to the hormones naturally produced by the human body. Also known as bio-identical hormone therapy (BHT) or natural hormone therapy, it is typically used to treat the symptoms of menopause, perimenopause and postmenopause in women and andropause in men.
Where do the actual bio-identical hormones come from?
Most bio-identical hormones come from natural plant sterols that are derived from soy and/or wild yams. Plants such as soy and wild yam have pre-cursor molecules known as “phyto-hormones” that can be easily converted into bio-identical hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc. These are taken to a laboratory where they are converted chemically, or semi-synthesized to hormones that are identical and indistinguishable from the body’s own.
What is the difference between bio-identical hormones and synthetic hormones?
From a physiological perspective, bio-identical hormones derived from natural plant sources are identical to those that the body produces for itself, in physiological proportions. When we are “replacing” the body’s hormones, we feel it makes more sense to use entities which the body recognizes as its own, rather than hormones from horses, imbalanced versions or overly potent synthetic versions. Synthetic hormones are chemically altered to be many more times potent than natural, bio-identical hormones.
How can I get bio-identical hormones?
With the exception of low potency progesterone creams, natural, bio-identical hormone therapy is generally obtained through a physician’s prescription.
Once my doctor has prescribed BHRT, why can’t I just go to any pharmacy?
Because the ingredients are naturally derived, it is impossible for a manufacturer to obtain a patent on these substances. Without a patent, it is unlikely that any drug manufacturer will go to the expense of pursuing these products for marketing and sales. Consequently, these bio-identical hormones must be prepared for the patient from pure, plant derived chemicals by a pharmacist at a compounding pharmacy.
How and when are bio-identical hormones administered?
Men and women often start experiencing systems of hormone imbalance between the ages of 35-40. If you decide to begin BHRT, your physician will run a series of tests and will work in conjunction with a compounding pharmacy to create your personalized treatment approach. Bio-identical hormones are typically compounded in the following forms: capsules, injections, suppositories, gels or creams.
What are the benefits of BHRT?
Bio-identical hormones can help decrease stress levels, help maintain proper body mass, maintain muscle mass, improve lipids and cholesterol levels, improve quality of sleep, balance mood, enhance energy and increase general feelings of well-being.
Are there any side effects to BHRT?
As with anything, there is the possibility of side effects with BHRT. Typically, side effects occur when the hormone dosage is too high for the individual. At Economy Pharmacy, our compounding pharmacists work closely with your physician to achieve balanced and proper dosages.
How long will it take for me to see a difference after starting BHRT?
Throughout BHRT, your hormones should be monitored on a regular basis, usually every 3 months, until the proper hormonal balance is established. It could take 3-6 months to regulate hormone levels.