Menopause is a profound life transition and is often accompanied by many physical changes and symptoms. When the ovary decreases hormone production during perimenopause and menopause, a woman’s body experiences disruption in multiple systems. Most women want to move through this life phase with grace and ease and maintain and enhance their health. Bioidentical hormones are a wonderful option for women as a treatment for menopause.
Bioidentical hormones are hormones that are an exact chemical match with those produced by the body. These hormones are usually extracted from plant sources. A prescription is required and usually contains a combination of estrogens, progesterone and testosterone in specific proportions for the individual woman. This combination is usually determined through laboratory testing (blood work) and evaluating your symptoms.
The bioidentical prescription is filled by a compounding pharmacy, where the pharmacist mixes the specific prescription. The hormones can be made into oral capsules, creams or sublingual drops, according to the patient’s needs and preferences. Because the bioidentical hormones match the ovary’s hormones, they are felt to be more natural in their metabolism through the body. Many women tolerate these more easily than non-bioidentical treatments. These hormones ease symptoms that are a result of low hormone level and may offer preventive protection to the bones, heart and colon.
There are some bioidentical hormones available from standard pharmaceutical companies. Estrogen (estradiol) and progesterone are available in plant-sourced bioidentical form; however testosterone and the other two ovarian estrogens are not available pharmaceutically. Only a limited range of dosage levels are available – since the hormones are pre-made. The advantage to these pre-made hormones may be the ease of obtaining them, cost savings and coverage by many insurance plans. In the end, it is important to work with your practitioner to determine the best therapy and combination for you.
Many women have a fear of taking hormone replacement therapy. There is research available on the compounded bioidentical therapy showing positive results, however it is not researched as thoroughly as standard pharmaceutical treatment. Although there is controversy in the media and among medical professionals, most agree that healthy women who take low dose replacement hormone therapy at the time of menopause are likely to receive benefit with minimal risk of adverse effects. In our experience, women do best on the therapy that they feel is best for them. When taking hormones, it is important to feel it is helpful and healthy – send a positive message to your body.
If you are interested in exploring bio-identical hormones please contact your WomanCare Physician. Click here.