Bio-identical hormones are the
new kid on the block and probably ones that will become the
default hormone treatment in a matter of years unless the drug
manufacturers have their way. There have
been quite a few controversies around hormones in general, but
these are generally reserved for synthetic hormones.
While the body may react properly in one way to the
synthetic hormone, there can be substantial side effects as well,
and there are strong concerns over their safety. Such risks
have been identified as particularly risky to those with a history
there are always risks to anything and this would include adding
hormones of any kind to your body, there are no known more risks for
using bio-identical hormones than there would be if you could
simply increase your body's own hormone output.
This is not to say you shouldn't
keep track of what's going on in you body. Any doctor
working with you and your hormone levels should do regular blood
tests to determine whether your body is handling it and using the
hormones well. Adjustments may have to be made and there's
always that possibility that your body won't react well or that
the hormones could produce some negative side effects.
Bioidentical hormones are
structurally the same as those found in your body, not ones that
just trigger the same biological response.
So why wouldn't everyone use
bioidenticals? Simply put, there's not as much money in
it. Drug companies cannot patent a biological substance like
hormones so they come up with their own synthetic version of
Bioidentical hormones aren't that hard to make,
but drug companies just prefer to not do so for economic reasons. Because bioidentical hormones
are actually superior to the synthetic ones, more tolerable, and
less risky, this makes the bioidentical version of the hormones
potentially more dangerous to the profits of the drug
companies. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers have
notoriously been against anything that their industry cannot
exclusively develop and patent.
Bio-identical hormones are also
ideal because they are "balanced". Humans
aren't simple creatures and neither are our hormonal
balances. Both men and women carry the same hormones, but in
different quantities. Men carry a small amount of estrogen,
and women carry a small amount of testosterone. However,
too much of the wrong kind can have less than desirable
It is testosterone that
is responsible for sex drive. Because they are balanced in
bio-identical hormone treatments, both sexes will see a marked
increase in sexual desire when starting on a bio-identical
balanced hormone treatment plan.
Women get far less
testosterone in their their hormone therapies, but it is quite
adequate and must also
be properly managed. Like anything else, just because
some is good does not mean that much more is better.
Forms of hormones used
There are essentially three forms
of hormone substances used today. Synthetic hormones are
chemical formulas that are supposed to act like the hormone
stated, natural hormones that are created from botanicals and act
like hormones, but are still structurally different. And then there are
bio-identical hormones which
actually ARE hormones (testosterone and estrogen).
Bio-identical hormones are also
made from botanicals, but they are structurally exactly the same
thing that your body produces.
As with all hormone therapies,
there are a variety of ways that bio-identical hormone therapies
can be introduced to the body. Each should be evaluated
according to your lifestyle and your personality.
Hormone Injections -
Involves a quick regular trip to the doctor's office for a monthly
injection or one that you can do yourself a couple of times per
week. For those used to allergy shots, this is pretty
The upside is that all you have to remember to do
something is once per month.
The downside is that you will notice an immediate
peak after the shot along with a slow decline towards the end of
the cycle. This can create a bit of a roller coaster
feeling that many people find bothersome. There may
also be some additional side effects from sudden increases in
Hormone Patches and Creams
- Involves applying a hormonal ointment or patch on a daily basis
to clean dry skin.
The upsides are that your hormone levels
stay where they are supposed to all the time and you merely need
to see a doctor once or twice a year to make sure that everything
is going as planned.
The downsides of course are that you
need to remember to do this on a daily basis and you have to carry
it with you. If do not already have a daily medication regimen,
doing this can be hard to remember every day.
Subcutaneous Hormone Implant
- Relatively new, bio-identical hormones can come in a
subcutaneous (under the skin) pelletized version. These involve a trip to
the doctor's office for a bit of microsurgery 3-4 times per
Bio-identical hormones come in
small pellets about the size of a grain of rice. Depending upon the
patient requirements and manufacturer, several of these will be
required - one for small increases, and perhaps up to 4-5 or
more for larger treatments.
The patient is fully awake for
the procedure and it is done in a doctor's office, but a
bit of lidocaine will be used to numb the implant area, usually
just below the belt on one buttock cheek. A small incision
is made, the pellets are placed inside, and it is closed up with a
Such a procedure will rarely take
any more than 5-10 minutes including the time necessary to numb
the skin, and you may experience a slight bit of skin soreness for
a day or two.
The upsides to subcutaneous hormone
implants are that you don't have to remember it daily, you
will have a steady flow of hormones into your system, and you can
more or less forget about it for several months.
downsides are that you do have to have this regular small bit of
surgery and you will experience a mildly sensitive area from the cut for a day or so.
There is also no "at home" treatment option for
this. You must see the doctor several times per year.