Just Exactly: What is BIOIDENTICAL?

Many women express a desire to take only natural hormones. But the words “natural” and “synthetic” can be very confusing to patients and doctors alike.

Whether a compound is biologically “natural” (to plants, horses, or whatever), is not the issue. The molecule shape, make-up, and structure must be identical to what is made in the human body to provide the perfect “key” to unlock the body’s receptor sites.

A compound that meets these requirements is called “bioidentical.” The bioidentical hormone replacement process is sort of like getting a spare key from the locksmith. The manufacturer (the ovary) stops making your own hormone at menopause, so a “locksmith” (the laboratory) makes an exact duplicate hormone molecule for you to use if you choose. ACCORDING TO THE NORTH AMERICAN MENOPAUSE SOCIETY, the term “bioidentical” is used to describe hormones that are: “chemically identical to the hormones produced naturally by your body.”

A growing number of influential people are climbing the bandwagon in the endorsement of bioidentical hormone therapy.  Jan. 15, 2009 — Oprah Winfrey says menopause caught her “off guard” and that she’s taking bioidentical hormones that have made a big improvement in how she feels. Bioidentical hormones are one form of therapy for menopausal symptoms. Winfrey, who turns 55 this month, writes in February’s edition of O, The Oprah Magazine that she felt “out of kilter” and had “issues” for two years that she suspected were hormonal. Upon a friend’s recommendation, Winfrey went to a doctor who specializes in hormones.

Winfrey writes that the hormone specialist told her that her “hormonal tank was empty” and gave her a prescription for bioidentical estrogen.” After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift,” Winfrey writes. “After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, and my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step.”

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers have brought bioidentical HRT onto center stage. The popularity of Ms. Somers’ books, Ageless, The Sexy Years, and Breakthrough, where she describes how bioidentical hormones relieved her menopause symptoms and made her feel more youthful, just goes to show how important this subject is to women in menopause.

Hormone therapy is not a “one size fits all” treatment.  Women experiencing symptoms requiring hormone replacement therapy must consider all variables before beginning a new health regime.  Age, weight, and health must be factored in for the most beneficial results.

Hitti, Miranda. “Oprah on Biodentical Hormones.” WebMD Health News. WebMD,LLC, 15 Jan. 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.

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