Bioidentical hormones: Are they safer?

Are bioidentical hormones safer and more effective than traditional hormone therapy for menopause symptoms?

Answer, from Mary Gallenberg, M.D.,

No, bioidentitical hormones aren’t safer or more effective than regular hormone therapy. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several medical specialty groups, bioidentical hormones may be riskier than standard hormone therapy, and there’s no evidence they’re any more effective.

Bioidentical hormones have become popular in recent years, partly because of celebrity endorsements and partly in reaction to reports of increased health risks with standard hormone therapy. The term “bioidentical” means the hormones in the product are chemically identical to those your body produces. In fact, they are — but so are the hormones used in many FDA-approved hormone replacement products.

Marketers of bioidentical hormones say their products have these advantages over standard hormone therapy:

  • They’re derived from plant chemicals, not synthesized in a laboratory. Some FDA-approved products (Estrace, Climara patch and Vivelle-Dot patch, and Prometrium natural progesterone) are also derived from plants.
  • They’re produced in doses and forms that differ from those in FDA-approved products. Some bioidentical hormone products are available without a prescription, but most require a prescription. Also, for many nonstandard combinations, you need to go through a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacies specialize in making medications customized for individual needs, such as inability to swallow solids or allergy to a binding agent in a tablet. However, products from compounding pharmacies have not been subject to the same rigorous quality assurance standards that standard commercially available hormonal preparations have to meet.
  • They’re custom made for you, based on a test of your saliva to assess your unique hormonal needs. Unfortunately, however, the hormone levels in your saliva don’t reflect the levels in your blood or correspond to menopause symptoms.

Some women may benefit from nonstandard doses and forms of hormones in bioidentical hormone preparations, but there is almost no scientific support for an advantage of these compounds over common commercially produced preparations.

Wendy Vineyard Comments…

This is an interesting blog on the website. The usual Internet post about so-called ‘bioidentitical’ hormones is about how wonderful they are – usually posted by women who use them, or doctors who promote them.

I want to be absolutely clear when I write about hormone replacement – whether it is ‘bioidentical’ or the old kind – you’re messing with Mother Nature and you’ve chosen the easy, artificial way out of a completely natural life process. Why is that? Why do people look for and swallow the ‘magic’ pill without considering that there are many, many solutions that are not as dramatic or fast-acting, but far more effective and nourishing for your entire body? 

When you take a pill – compressed chemicals – you are introducing a foreign substance to your body. Get ready for side effects. All chemicals have them. Have you tried something natural first or are chemicals your first choice?

Do you know how to honor your body? This is my opinion. LISTEN to what your body is saying. Could those hot flashes be saying you need to adjust what you eat and drink? Could that brain fog be saying that you need to slow down for a bit and rest more? Could those achy joints be saying you may want to adjust your workouts to respect your body as it is today?

Every day we get one day older. Yup. It’s true. When you add up your days, you see changes. Life does not stay the same and we have to let go of things that no longer serve us and it would be so empowering and self-loving to embrace what nurtures us now.

Menopause and perimenopause are not just a physical processes. They involve your mind and your emotions. Menopause and perimenopause are holistic experiences. They’re natural experiences. Did I saythey’re natural experience? If you haven’t looked after your body, mind and spirit in the past, you can start today with one or more of these actions to love yourself healthy again…

1. Eat a fresh vegetable, or five, every day! Raw preferably. A fresh spring salad anyone?

2. Drink 2 to 3 liters (quarts) of purified water every day.

3. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, starting before 11 pm for best effect.

4. Take a supplement with CoEnzymeQ10 in it to put a spark into every cell in your body. You naturally produce this nutrient in your livers until about the age of 40, when production starts to decline. If you’re over 40, you need this added to your diet to keep yourself healthy and looking young. For best results, choose a supplement that combines CoEnzymeQ10 with Vitamin D3, and for good measure it should include Resveratrol (the active anti-aging ingredient in red wine.)

5. Take a calcium supplement at bedtime to help you get more restorative sleep and prevent disease.

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Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  1. Wendy Vineyard
    6 years ago

    The other day I thought about teenagers and puberty and how their mood swings can make life miserable for them and everyone within shouting distance. I thought about how differently we treat teenage hormone angst. No responsible parent would ever say to their 15 year old son or daughter “Come on, we’re going to the doctor to get you some bio-identitical hormones to stop all this nonsense.” I doubt that an ethical doctor would ever give a teenager hormones to stop unpleasant puberty symptoms. Why is it perfectly acceptable to medicate the menopause life stage? Why do we disrespect the female body by using medications, rather than switchinig to health-supporting healthy lifestyle choices of diet, cleansing, exercise etc.?

  2. Trudy
    4 years ago

    So easy to say eat a vegetable, drink water, and get plenty of sleep. If I could get some sleep, any sleep at all, I wouldn’t be looking to get on hormones. Honor your body my foot! I’m healthy, eat organic, exercise, the whole nine yards–but I don’t get any sleep, no rest at all. Walk a mile in my shoes and then tell me not to take something for it. And don’t tell me to take melatonin or magnesium or anything else. I’ve tried them all and nothing works. You ruined a fairly good article with your condescension.

    • Wendy Vineyard
      4 years ago

      Trudy, not everyone has tried ‘everything’ and, respectfully, I have to say that it’s likely you haven’t either. Perception is projection – I certainly am not telling anyone what to do about their unique situation. I make suggestions, observations, perspectives and present the facts as I see them. Every woman has to find the solution that’s right for her. It’s understandable that you would be angry and frustrated about your lack of success in finding what will work for you. Keep looking for the right answer! Have you considered working with a coach to help you release negative emotions and limiting decisions, or resolve significant emotional events from your childhood? Insomnia can be related to ‘old stuff’ that comes up at mid-life when your unconscious mind decides you’re ready to face some painful unresolved events that are simmering beneath the surface. If you want more information, take a look at my website

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