Menopause FAQs: Bioidentical Hormones includes some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT), bioidentical custom compounded hormone therapy or ‘bioidenticals’.

Bioidentical Hormones

What are bioidentical hormones?

Depending on the Source the definition of bioidentical hormones may vary. In Menopausal Symptoms: In-Depth – What the Science Says About Complementary Health Approaches for Menopause Symptoms: Other Complementary Approaches – Bioidentical Hormones the (United States) National Institute of Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH definition is:

Menopause FAQs: Bioidentical Hormones

  • “Bioidentical hormones are hormones from plant sources that are chemically similar or identical to hormones produced in the human body”.

Menopause Bioidentical Hormones

What kinds of bioidentical hormones are used to treat menopause symptoms?

In Menopausal Symptoms: In-Depth – What the Science Says About Complementary Health Approaches for Menopause Symptoms: Other Complementary Approaches – Bioidentical Hormones the NCCIH explain:

  • “Two kinds of bioidentical hormone products are used to treat menopause symptoms: those that have gone through the same FDA approval process as other types of hormone therapy, and custom-mixed preparations that compounding pharmacies prepare individually for patients”.

Natural or Not?

Are bioidentical hormones ‘natural’ or not?

In Bioidentical Custom Compounded Hormone Therapy the Australasian Menopause Society explain:

“It is important to realise that no hormone used in any preparation of pharmaceutical grade menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or compounded “bioidentical therapy” is ‘natural’. They are all synthesised in the laboratory from some precursor by enzymatic manipulation”.

Safe or Not?

Are bioidentical hormones ‘safe’ or not?

In Menopause Management: Pharmacy-Compounded Hormones the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health elaborate on:

“There are questions about the safety and effectiveness of pharmacy-compounded hormones:

  • We have no research evidence that the recommended doses of the hormone preparations made by compounding pharmacists are safe or effective
  • It has been claimed this form of hormone therapy does not cause side effects, but this therapy is similar to all prescription hormone therapies, and therefore should have the same risks and benefits. This is unproven and unlikely, with many women presenting with known complications of oestrogen and testosterone therapy while on compounded hormonal preparations…”.

In Menopause FAQs: Hormone Therapy for Menopause Symptoms – Q. I’ve heard about something called bioidentical hormones. What are they? the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) note:

“A. Custom-compounded hormones are not safer or more effective than approved bioidentical hormones. They are not tested for safety and effectiveness or to prove that the active ingredients are absorbed appropriately or provide predictable levels in blood and tissue. In fact, they may not even contain the prescribed amounts of hormones, and that can be dangerous. For example, when the progesterone level is too low, you are not protected against endometrial (uterine) cancer. When estrogen levels are too high, there can be overstimulation of the endometrium and breast tissue, putting you at risk of endometrial cancer and possibly breast cancer.”

Recommended or Not?

Are bioidentical hormones recommended or not?

In the Revised Global Consensus Statement on Menopausal Hormone Therapy – endorsed by seven menopause-related organizations – published online 20 June 2016, one of the points of consensus is:

  • “The use of custom-compounded hormone therapy is not recommended because of lack of regulation, rigorous safety and efficacy testing, batch standardization, and purity measures”.

Recommended Alternatives

Are scientifically tested and government approved ‘natural’ products available, instead of bioidentical hormones?

On page one in Bioidentical Hormone Therapy: Custom-Compounded Versus Government Approved the NAMS explain for the United States:

“If you prefer to treat your bothersome menopause symptoms with hormones that are chemically identical to those you produced naturally before menopause, ask your health care provider to prescribe estradiol and progesterone products that are scientifically tested and government approved. Estradiol is available as an oral tablet, skin patch, topical gel, topical spray, and vaginal ring. Low doses of estradiol used in the vagina (to treat vaginal dryness and painful intercourse but not hot flashes) are available as a vaginal tablet, cream, and ring. Progesterone is available as an oral capsule (see table below for product names)”.

Menopause FAQs

Where may I find more Menopause FAQs?

Menopause FAQs: Bioidentical HormonesIn Menopause FAQs: Expert Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Menopause the NAMS elaborate on:

“Navigate through the different topics to find answers from the experts on frequently asked questions about menopause, early menopause, menopause symptoms, hot flashes, hormone therapy, health after menopause, finding a menopause specialist, and more”.

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Last Updated: 10 May 2021 – Last Revised: 11 February 2019
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