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What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

By Mike Kocsis | 10 minutes read | Last updated: August 25, 2021
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

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    Natural hormones are the chemicals made by glands present inside body. Each hormone has a particular task that it must perform to regulate different body processes normally. Your body produces these hormones at a balanced level. Their fluctuation can have a negative impact on your physical as well as mental health.

    Bioidentical hormones are identical to your natural hormones with respect to their structure and chemistry. When your body does not make enough hormones due to a disease or some other reason, then injecting bioidentical hormones might be the right method of optimizing hormone levels again.

    In this article, we have talked about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, its benefits, process, forms, and risks in detail. Go through the article to learn everything you must know about this treatment before having it.

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    Bioidentical hormones

    Hormones are the messenger molecules produced by the special cells within the body. They are secreted directly in the bloodstream from where they move to certain organs or tissues to guide their cells to perform a specific task. Hormones control various physiological activities in humans. Examples of these activities include development, growth, metabolism, emotions, mood, fertility, and sleep, etc.

    Your body produces hormones in a balanced manner. Sometimes, the hormonal level declines or becomes imbalanced. It may happen naturally when you start ageing (the level of certain hormones decline in both men and women with age), or it may happen due to disease, stress, or any other issue. When your hormones become imbalanced, you notice a change in your mood, gain weight, and other symptoms that disturb your day to day activities. This is where bioidentical hormones come to help.

    As the name suggests, bioidentical hormones are chemically and structurally identical to hormones that your body produces naturally. They are manmade and produced from the plants in the laboratories. Common hormones that are made this way include testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Enanthate, cypionate, Sustanon, propionate and nebido are a few bioidentical testosterones available in the market.

    Bioidentical hormones are administered in the body through different ways to increase the level of a particular hormone or stimulate the body to make it naturally. Men and women who have hormonal imbalance are offered this treatment option.

    Compound bioidentical hormones

    Compound bioidentical hormones are actually a blend of different bioidentical hormones. The drug manufacturing companies do not prepare them. In fact, they are made by health care practitioners according to the needs of each patient. Compound bioidentical hormones are not FDA-approved. They are not being tested for their safety, dose, etc. The effectiveness of the combination of different hormones has also not been studied well.

    Compound bioidentical hormones are custom-made for you. Your hormonal need is detected through a saliva test. However, it is believed that a simple saliva test does not reflect the true levels of hormones in the bloodstream. Compound bioidentical hormones have not been studied well, so it is hard to tell how effective they are.

    Health benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy

    Benefits for men

    The levels of testosterone naturally start declining in men as they age. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It controls various functions, including muscle mass formation, fat distribution in the body, bone mass, sex derive, formation of sperms and red blood cells. When your body does not produce enough testosterone, you notice various physical, emotional, and mood changes.

    Men with low testosterone complain about having low sex derive, trouble in achieving an erection, reduced muscle mass, decreased bone density, gain in body fat, trouble concentrating, low motivation, and depression. Although these changes may occur in the body as a natural part of ageing, there might also be an underlying cause behind them, such as a disease. Based on the cause of low testosterone, your doctor will recommend a treatment option.

    Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is one of the suitable choices you have for low testosterone. It can restore your testosterone to optimal levels and help you improve your quality of life. However, you should remember that there are some risks associated with this treatment. You should carefully examine the pros and cons of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy before considering it. If you believe you are suffering with low testosterone then do get in touch to discuss our low testosterone treatment options for men and to book yourself a blood test.

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    Benefits for women

    Like men, women also experience hormonal changes as they age. In women, the levels of estrogen and progesterone also decline. Their levels reach the lowest when women enter menopause. During this phase of life, they experience different symptoms, including hot flashes, chills, dry skin, mood changes, vaginal dryness, lower libido, trouble falling asleep, weight gain, thinning hair, breast soreness, joint issues, depression, and fatigue. If you suffer from any of these symptoms then consider getting in touch with our of our team to discuss hormone replacement therapy treatment options.

    These symptoms are a part of a phase of life that every woman will go through in her life. They can impact your day to day activities badly. So, increasing the levels of estrogen and progesterone through different ways may help you restore the quality of life again. One of the effective ways of increasing estrogen and progesterone is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. In this therapy, you will be given estrogen and progesterone in a controlled dose to increase their level in the bloodstream.

    Many women, who receive estrogen and progesterone, notice an improvement in their menopause symptoms. Some women believe it makes them feel more energetic and younger.

    All in all, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may help men and women in the following ways.

    • Improved sex derive
    • Reduced depression and anxiety
    • Increased muscle mass
    • Increased bone density
    • Well moisturized skin
    • Less bloating
    • Improved quality of sleep
    • Improved mental concentration and clarity
    • More energy and a sense of well-being

    Forms of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy

    The products of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy come in different forms. Based on it, the therapy is divided into different forms. Your doctor will decide which form is best for you. He may also recommend you to try different forms to check which of these is a better choice for you. Below is the list of the common forms or ways of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

    Tablets

    Tablets are one of the most common forms of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. They make the simplest method of treatment and are usually taken once a day. However, you should know that the risk of blood clot formation is more when you take hormones through tablets or pills.

    Gels and creams

    Bioidentical hormones come in the form of gels and creams as well. You apply them once a day on the skin, and your skin absorbs them directly.

    Injections and implants

    You can also inject bioidentical hormones directly into the muscles using intramuscular injections which is generally the preferred method of administration.

    Transdermal skin patches

    Transdermal skin patches are suitable for those who do not like taking tablets every other day. These patches are attached to the skin and are replaced every day or after a few days.

    Process of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy

    The process of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy varies from one healthcare provider to the other. However, it can generally be divided into the following stages.

    Consultation

    Your first appointment with a health physician is very important. During this appointment, the experts will ask you different questions to identify the cause of your symptoms. They may ask you questions like when your symptoms first started, what symptoms you feel, etc.

    It is advised to answer each question honestly so that the health physician can identify the suitable dose and form of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for you.

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    Therapy appointment

    During the therapy appointment, you will be asked questions about the changes you are feeling in your body due to the treatment. The healthcare provider may change your initial dosage after seeing its effects on the body and fine tune it to best work with you and your symptoms.

    During the therapy appointment, you will also get the dose either through injection, or gels, based on what you decided with your doctor.

    Post-treatment

    There are no strict post-treatment guidelines. The guidelines actually depend on the form of treatment you are receiving. For instance, if you received a pellet, then the physician may tell you to clean the area, etc.

    How is the dose of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy selected?

    The dose of a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy depends on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor will first analyze your symptoms then prescribe a dose. The dose may also be adjusted with time. The aim is to keep the dose minimum yet achieve the goal. Your doctor may also check your hormone levels from time to time through urine, blood, or saliva tests. Then he may change a dose based on the levels of the hormone.

    How are bioidentical hormones different from the traditional hormones of HRT?

    Bioidentical hormones are similar to natural hormones with respect to their chemistry and structure. They are obtained from plant sources. On the other hand, traditional hormones used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are mostly made from synthetic hormones or the urine of pregnant horses.

    Some people claim that bioidentical hormones are safer as they are closer to natural hormones. However, there is no scientific study that makes a similar claim. In fact, some experts believe that the risks of hormone replacement therapy and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy are the same.

    Is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy safe?

    Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is generally safe for healthy people. It can cause complications if you have certain health conditions like blood pressure, liver disease, etc. It may also increase the risks of heart attack, prostate cancer, and blood clot formation in certain people.

    You may feel some symptoms after getting this treatment. But know that these symptoms go away after a few months. Following is the list of the common symptoms of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Mood swings
    • Bloating
    • Leg cramps
    • Indigestion
    • Swelling in certain parts of the body
    • Fluid retention
    • Acne
    • Weight gain
    • Growth of facial hair in women

    You should always discuss these symptoms with your doctor so that he can suggest possible ways of overcoming them.

    How long does this treatment take to work?

    We cannot tell the exact time the bioidentical hormone replacement therapy takes to work. The results of treatment vary from one person to the other. Some people start feeling the effects of bioidentical hormone therapy within three days after the treatment. On the other hand, some feel the effect of treatment within two weeks after starting treatment. Check our our article on how long it takes to see the effects of TRT here.

    Who can take bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?

    Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment. Men and women suffering from hormonal imbalance or low hormone levels choose this treatment option. However, this treatment may not be suitable for you if you have any of the following issues.

    • You are suffering from high blood pressure and have not started treating it yet. Your blood pressure issue will first have to be sorted out.
    • You have a blood clot problem.
    • You have ovarian cancer or breast cancer.
    • You have kidney or liver problems.
    • You are pregnant.

    It is better to discuss your health history with your physician before choosing this treatment. Getting bioidentical hormone replacement therapy when you have any of the above issues can negatively influence your health and complicate the disease more.

    How long will I have to take bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?

    The duration of this therapy depends on your health after getting it. If your symptoms start going away, then the doctor may reduce the dose. And he may end the treatment if the symptoms of the low hormone are gone completely.

    You can either stop this treatment at once or gradually. However, it is mostly recommended to decrease it gradually to let the body adjust to it slowly. Otherwise, your symptoms may come back soon after the treatment.

    Conclusion

    Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are identical to the natural hormones that your body makes. This treatment is suitable for people who are suffering from low hormone levels and want to optimize their hormone levels again. Talk to your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of this treatment before choosing it.

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    References / Studies / Further Reading / Evidence

    Bioidentical Hormones, Menopausal Women, and the Lure of the “Natural” in U.S. Anti-Aging Medicine

    Effectiveness of Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Observational Cohort Study

    Use of Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Bioidentical Hormone Therapy in Australian Women 50 to 69 Years of Age: Results from a National, Cross-Sectional Study

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

    We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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    Last update: August 25th, 2021
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