Let us answer your questions and assist you in making the best choices regarding your hormone needs.
What Are the Facts?
Over the last few years, the information available to us regarding hormone therapy has been extremely confusing. Conflicting research, disputes over claims of the risks and benefits, along with media sensationalism has made the decision making process difficult to say the least. The interest in a more natural approach to health and hormone therapy has focused attention on bioidentical hormones. Unfortunately, our current medical system doesn’t always support this decision. Finding a provider that will take the time to individualize a hormone plan can be difficult. In addition, because our insurance companies often fail to reimburse this option at the same rate as the synthetic hormones, having a provider that can help you to manage your out-of-pocket expenses is also important. As a provider, in an attempt to bring the most complete information to my clients I have read and studied much of the available information and have come to appreciate the dilemma that many women find themselves in. Here at Bothell Women’s Health, we will help you weigh the options and come to the decision that works best for you. Whether it’s for the relief of perimenopausal symptoms or because of an attempt to optimize health, the decision to supplement hormones and how best to accomplish this is a very individualized process.
What’s Up with Bioidenticals?
Bioidentical hormones are hormone supplements whose molecular structure is identical to the hormones women make in their bodies. They are FDA approved and formulated from a natural plant base, usually from wild yams and soybeans. Because they are the same as our natural hormones, they bind to the body’s receptor sites in a predictable way that can optimize effectiveness and minimize risks and side effects. Because they are compounded individually based on a health provider’s orders by an expert compounding pharmacist, they can be individually tailored to a client’s unique hormonal needs. Because of these benefits, choosing this type of hormone supplementation makes a lot of sense to many women and I support and encourage this option.
Are Bioidentical “Compounded” Hormones the Only Appropriate Option?
When making the decision to supplement hormones, finances, access limitations, and personal preferences need to be considered. Currently, there are several products produced and marketed by major drug companies that do offer similar benefits and properties as bioidentical hormones. In some instances even synthetics can prove to be a viable choice. Understanding these options and offering them to clients is also a part of my practice that I consider important when presenting the complete picture of options and considerations. For example, many of the name brand products are reimbursed better, but they come with limitations on dosing and can be difficult to customize to the individual. Again, this is a reason to find a health care provider that is going to give you the time and present the complete picture, which will allow you to make an informed choice.
Lauren Schweizer, ARNP