Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, also known as BHRT, is an alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Hormones are chemicals that act as messengers in the body. Some hormones regulate things like growth or metabolism. Other hormones are specifically associated with reproduction or sexual maturity. In women, these hormones include Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone.
Why women want HRT
A woman’s hormone levels fluctuate during her monthly cycle, but remain generally steady through her childbearing years. As she reaches middle age, her body’s production of certain hormones slows, triggering the symptoms of menopause. At this point, some women chose to supplement their body’s natural hormones with hormone replacement therapy. You can read more about this in the HRT Overview article.
What are bioidentical hormones?
Hormones used in all types of hormone replacement therapy are manufactured in a lab or pharmacy. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy involves the use of hormones that are considered to be exact duplicates (or bio-identical) to the hormones naturally produced by the body. Hormones used in other types of HRT are chemical compounds that are not exactly the same as a woman’s natural hormones. This is done in part because pharmaceutical companies are not able to patent a natural substance. In order to hold a patent to their particular formula, the companies are forced to alter the chemical construction of the hormone to make it unique from those made by their competitors.
Is BHRT right for me?
There is significant controversy in the medical community about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Some doctors who prefer to prescribe BHRT believe it is safer and more effective for their patients. Other doctors protest that BHRT has not been studied in the same way by the scientific community and therefore might not be as safe as other types of HRT.