Bioidentical hormones are plant-derived, and are structurally identical to hormones produced by your body. Bioidentical hormone delivery methods and dosages are chosen based on testing and your individual symptoms and specific needs.
There are many types of bioidentical hormones including pharmaceuticals such as patches and gels, as well as compounded options including sustained-release capsules, topical creams or gels, sublingual lozenges, and subcutaneous pellet implants.
Historically, hormone replacement has involved the use of synthetic hormones, especially synthetic estrogen, progestins (e.g., Premarin® and Provera® or PremPro®) and testosterone (methyltestosterone in Estratest®). These synthetic hormones have been shown to increase the risk for health problems including breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and liver problems.
Bioidentical hormones are prescribed in individualized dosages (based on clinical symptoms and lab results). Because bioidentical hormones are identical in structure as those hormones produced by the human body, they are safer and more effective than synthetic hormones (this is especially true for bioidentical progesterone and testosterone).
More information about bioidentical hormone options, benefits, risks, and research can be found here.
Do women and men need bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) for life?
Humans are a unique species when it comes to the fact that we live much of our lives outside our reproductive years. Most animals in the wild do not live beyond their ability to reproduce – many don’t even live beyond puberty. Our increased life expectancy is relatively recent – only women and men in the past couple of generations have a life expectancy beyond 50 years. There is certainly much controversy about whether or not it’s appropriate to restore hormones to youthful levels as people age.
There are two main perspectives when it comes to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or ‘BHRT’: use the lowest dosage for the shortest time possible only to treat symptoms, or use individualized dosages for longer periods of time to maintain youthfulness and prevent diseases of aging. Both perspectives require proper evaluation of your specific risks, as well as appropriate follow-up.
Dr. Seibert believes it is your choice whether or not to replace deficient hormones, and supports you in becoming informed about risks, benefits, and treatment options. As a patient, yearly lab tests and office visits are required to review your current health, BHRT prescription, and new research that may impact your treatment.