What Shakespeare knows about bioidentical hormones


“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet“,  and would still have thorns. So don’t be misled by popular media that “bioidentical hormones” are special formulations of estrogen only available at compounding pharmacies, or that they provide added benefit and safety over non-compounded estrogens.

The term bioidentical is used to describe hormones that are “chemically identical to the hormones produced naturally by your body”. The most common form of estrogen produced by a woman’s normally functioning ovaries is estradiol. Estradiol is the plant derived hormone available in many forms from your local pharmacy from FDA approved pharmaceutical products. There are oral preparations, patches, creams, gels and mists and they have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy.

Compounding refers to the custom mixing of hormones by a pharmacist based on a prescription written by your doctor. This could be helpful in special situations where a woman may have difficulty handling certain other components of drug products, but usually is just more costly and makes the medication more cumbersome to obtain. If you want to spend more for your medication, that is your choice, but don’t do it believing that you have avoided the risks associated with taking estrogen.

Estrogen therapy for moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness may be appropriate for you. The risks and benefits are the same whether you are using compounded formulas or pharmaceutical medications. Talk with your doctor about the best route of administration,  and the best product for you.


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