Hormone replacement therapy using synthetic hormones initially showed promise with easing menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms for women, plus lowering the risk of heart disease. However, in 2002, scientists discovered long-term, synthetic hormone therapy is associated with and has an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and heart disease, contradicting some of the prior research. As an alternative, bioidentical hormone therapy was developed.
Bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to hormones made by the human body, whereas the synthetic hormones used in traditional HRT do not have the same chemical and molecular structure, and therefore the body can react adversely to them. A pharmaceutical company like MEDS Pharmacy Group can work with individuals’ medical practitioners to provide healthy supplements that suit one’s unique physiological needs. They use pharmaceutical compounding to create these customized treatments derived from a variety of natural hormones sources.
(It is important to note that the ‘natural’ aspect of therapy is not what ensures its efficacy, it’s that the hormones are biologically identical. Many things that are ‘natural’ are not necessarily good to consume or use for therapeutic purposes.)
BHRT can help women who are menopausal and perimenopausal with benefits such as:
- Fewer hot flashes
- Increased sex drive
- Reduced fatigue
- Healthier hair
- Better skin hydration
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved memory and cognition
- Reduced bloating
Bioidentical hormones work because they are chemically identical and exactly mimic those in the human body, so the body naturally integrates them. Some BHRT hormones are from plant sources and others are from animal sources. Some plant sources include soy and yams. If a patient has a preference for the source of their hormones, i.e., vegetarian sources only, one’s pharmacist should be notified.
It’s important to target the symptoms of menopause or other conditions and to not try to hit a certain level of hormones, as there is no standardized, appropriate level for all individuals. Attention to the patient and their symptoms is the focus of BHRT as well as pharmaceutical compounding.
Pharmaceutical compounding is the practice of creating customized prescriptions for patients based on their specific needs. This could be a difference in dosage, method of ingestion or application, adding flavouring, altering ingredients to counteract side effects, and others. Medications made by major pharmaceutical companies are manufactured to suit a generalized set of users and might contain too much of the active ingredient or other components that have adverse effects or trigger allergic reactions. For BHRT, not all women have the same hormonal needs, so adaptable, scalable treatments are preferable.
Note that there may be side effects and increased risks associated with any medication, including compounded ones. Prolonged estrogen replacement therapy of any type comes with an increased risk of cancer. Women undergoing hormone therapy should also integrate additional lifestyle changes to assist with treatment, health goals, and overall wellbeing. These include taking vitamin supplements and eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, regularly exercising, and proactively managing anxiety and stress.
Ask your doctor and pharmacist about the benefits of bioidentical hormones and BHRT and the tailored benefits of pharmaceutical compounding.