Bioidentical hormones - what you need to know
Due to media scares in recent years over the safety of traditional hormone therapy, many women are looking for alternative treatments to help them cope with their menopausal symptoms. Women may look to their family or friends for advice, but they also look towards other sources of information such as the internet, popular media and even celebrities. The recent movie Sex and the City 2 featured a storyline about a character who relied on a wide array of alternative treatments to manage her menopause symptoms.
The term 'bioidentical hormones' or 'compounded hormones' is often used to describe a type of hormone therapy which claims to contain oestrogen and progesterone that is identical to the hormones found in our bodies. Like conventional hormone therapy, bioidentical hormone therapy requires a doctor's prescription.
A doctor who prescribes the bioidentical hormone therapy may decide what kind of preparation to prescribe based on blood and saliva tests. Unfortunately, these tests are not very reliable as hormone levels at midlife can fluctuate throughout the day.
Bioidentical hormone therapy is prepared by a compounding pharmacist, which means that the pharmacist mixes up the hormones specifically for a particular patient. The concentrations of the hormone preparations will vary from woman to woman however this makes it difficult to assess the safety, dose and quality of the treatment.
Due to lack of research bioidentical hormone therapy is not approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or its US equivalent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health can not recommend the use of bioidentical hormones until quality published research and trials are available to inform women and their doctors on the safety and effectiveness of these agents.
For more information, go to www.tga.gov.au
- Therapeutic Goods Administration, 1800 020 653www.endo-society.org
- The Endrocrine Societywww.imsociety.org
- International Menopause Society www.fda.gov
- Bio-Identicals: Sorting Myths and Facts.
Published with the permission of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health
Tollfree number 1800 151 441 for women seeking further health information www.JeanHailes.org.au