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Bio-Identical Hormones. Are They Really?

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We have Oprah, Suzanne Somers, Christiane Northrup and even Dr. Phil's wife, Robin McGraw on the bio-identical bandwagon, but we're still as confused as ever and I personally feel there is still pressure to sell us (middle-aged women) some very expensive drugs that are being hyped as the fountain of youth!

At least one of them is a doctor (Northrup), but honestly, you can always find equal numbers of doctors, scientists and researchers who either agree or disagree with the safety and the efficacy. I wanted to laugh when the opposing doctor in the audience stated that the drugs you get from the compounding pharmacy (she doesn't accept the bioidentical term) are not monitored by the government, so you don't know what you're getting and if it's safe, etc. The laughable part was because of the 20+ years that the FDA was in bed with the pharmaceutical industry and pushed Premarin and Provera on women like it was candy, saying it would "make you feel like a young woman again"! How is that any different than people saying bioidentical hormones can help a woman get her quality of life back?

If the FDA did nothing to protect us until they were forced to by the WHI report, why should we have confidence in them now when their chain is still being jerked by the pharmaceutical companies? The compounded hormones have been used for many years, but no one said anything about them until the traditional hrt drugs were forced off the market because they were proven to cause cancer, etc. THEN the pharm
companies started demanding that the compounding pharmacies not be allowed to do what they've been doing all along--creating prescribed, individualized doses of hormones for women.

I actually tend to trust what Suzanne Somers says because I can see that she has done the research and does use everything herself. She clearly states that her regimen is not for everyone, but she is proof that she's doing something right if she feels as good as she says she does. She certainly looks good at 62. And so does Dr. Northrup, but I'm pretty sure both have had some kind of cosmetic enhancements.

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It is your right and responsibility to choose an experienced physician who listens, provides you with information, and respects your treatment decisions. Treating hormone imbalances requires a comprehensive understanding of endocrinology and gynecology, as well as significant clinical experience. It is impossible for any physician to be an expert in all areas of health. Treat your health care providers as teachers or consultants, and recognize that each member of your health care team may have different experience and knowledge. Expect your physician to provide you with information on available research, benefits, and risks of any treatment you choose. Do not be afraid to question any treatment or to make your own healthcare decisions. If your healthcare provider is unaware of research about bioidentical hormones, he or she may sincerely—yet mistakenly—say there is no research, or that bioidentical hormones are dangerous. He or she is wrong. There is a difference between “no research” and not knowing about or having read the research. It’s much easier for busy practitioners to dismiss patients, than it is to question their beliefs and read the research. There is plenty of clinical research about the effectiveness and safety of bioidentical hormones. Like any medical treatment, Bioidentical hormones can carry risks, especially when administered in excessive dosages, outside of physiological levels; overall, however, compared to synthetic hormones, their risk profile is much lower. This is especially true for progesterone vs. progestins, and testosterone versus methyltestosterone. More research about long-term effects of bioidentical hormones still needs to be done.

In Health


May 13, 2010 - 9:50am

You are probably wondering why do we use the word, "bioidentical"? That's an excellent question. I can remember back when I was in first year medical school learning biochemistry at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Our class used Lehninger's classic textbook of biochemistry. Lehninger never used the word, bio-identical hormones, because all hormones are by definition, bioidentical hormones. They simply used the word, "hormone". Using a word like "bioidentical" was simply redundant and unnecessary for a biochemistry textbook, as it should be today.

Why are the smart women switching to bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are safer and more effective than chemically altered synthetic hormones.

To read more:


March 12, 2010 - 11:39am

I can only speak for my own experience but when I decided to start hormone therapy (after a whole summer of absolutely no sleep and body aches) it only took 6 weeks for me to feel like my old self and even better. I also take natural supplements to support my adrenals.

The bioidentical hormones aren't for what they can do for outward appearance but how to have balance in our bodies. For ages, women used natural treatments before doctors came up with new and synthetic meds for it. I trust what women have naturally done for ages.

I agree that women are treated like lab rats and are still not taken seriously by a lot of docs but there are some great docs out there who will take the time to treat the cause and not the symptoms.

I recommend that women look at all their options before they make a decision, if what one doc doesn't sound right or doesn't make sense, seek out different options. I'm glad I did.

May 2, 2009 - 9:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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