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Bioidentical hormones: Are they better?

Lana Bandoim's picture

Today’s women can spend over a third of their lives in the post-menopausal stage. Many women are turning to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage their symptoms. However, are all hormone replacement therapies equal and safe? Since HRT was introduced in the 1960s, there has been controversy over the safety of using synthetic hormones for menopausal symptom relief. Do other options exist, and are they safer?


Bioidentical hormones

Bioidentical hormones are one of the HRT options. “Often called ‘natural’ hormones, bioidentical hormones have the same chemical structure as the hormones produced naturally by your body. The hormones are manufactured in a lab, but are carefully tailored to match the exact form and function of the hormones our body utilizes every day,” according to Freedom Healthcare, an expert clinic in hormone therapy.

The difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones

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A controversy exists over bioidentical hormones, and you may notice a variety of answers from experts about comparing them to synthetic hormones. A post from Healthline.com clears up the difference, and it summarizes, “Simply put, a synthetic hormone is a hormone synthesized in a pharmaceutical laboratory from synthetic (man-made) chemical compounds. Bioidentical hormones are synthesized in a pharmaceutical laboratory from plant sources. Hence, the term natural versus synthetic.”

The article also discusses how your body recognizes the two different types of hormones. Since synthetic hormones are manmade compounds, the human body does not recognize them the same way that it recognizes hormones that are produced inside the body. On the other hand, bioidentical hormones are the same structure as hormones naturally produced by the body, so the body recognizes them the same way.

Are bioidentical hormones safer?

If you prefer to read the research and examine the facts on your own, a study was done to determine if bioidentical hormones are safer and more effective than their synthetic counterparts. If you prefer to know the bottom line, then this was the study’s conclusion: “A thorough review of the medical literature supports the claim that bioidentical hormones have some distinctly different, often opposite, physiological effects to those of their synthetic counterparts. With respect to the risk for breast cancer, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, substantial scientific and medical evidence demonstrates that bioidentical hormones are safer and more efficacious forms of HRT than commonly used synthetic versions.”

The potential risks and benefits should be evaluated when considering whether or not to use hormone replacement therapy. HRT is commonly used by women suffering from moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The therapy can be effective, but it also comes with risks. If you are currently taking or considering taking hormone replacement therapy, then talk to your doctor about bioidentical hormones to see if they are a better option.