Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is made up of plant compounds including wild yams and soy, it used for treating the signs of menopause. The hormones created from these plant sources have the same molecular structure as those produced naturally in the body. A lot of people think this is an improvement over traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which was made from the urine of pregnant horses and not a molecular match to hormones naturally produced by the body. BHRT contains estrone, estradiol and progesterone; products with these components are available in FDA approved drugs. But BHRT is closely associated with the process of compounding, these compounded products may also contain testosterone, estriol and dehydroepiandrosterone in their ingredients and these compounded BHRT products aren’t FDA approved.
Not only are compounded BHRT medications not FDA approved, but they most likely never will be. This is because the compounding process makes study next to impossible. Each woman is given a blood or saliva test to measure her hormone levels and given a prescription which is then taken to a compounding pharmacy where the medication is compounded exactly to her hormonal needs. Because each blend of medication is different, it doesn’t allow for standardized testing making it impossible for the FDA to give it a stamp of approval.
Besides a lack of FDA approval, another controversy surrounding BHRT is unsubstantiated health claims made by advocates of BHRT. The claims include statements such as: 1) compounded BHRT works better than HRT and 2) compounded BHRT is safer that than HRT. Some doctors and manufacturers of traditional HRT drugs have taken exception to these claims and taken the fight to the FDA. The FDA agrees that these claims are false, misleading and potentially dangerous and have begun cracking down on people making such claims.
The reality is that the effectiveness, safety or health risks of compounded BHRT are largely unknown at this time. But despite a lack of FDA approval and unknown potential health risks, women are still flocking to compounded BHRT. Visit Signs of Menopause Guide for lots more articles on menopause.