Many women use bioidentical hormones when going through menopause. These hormones are supposed to combat the symptoms of menopause and have gained popularity because they are said to be natural in the way they are made. But are they as safe as they seem?
Many celebrities such as Oprah and Suzanne Sommers advocate the use of bioidentical hormones but new studies show they are not as safe as they may seem.
CBS news reports on the issues associated with bioidentical hormones. “...while these hormones may be "natural" in origin, there's no guarantee that the ingredients in these products are safe, let alone superior to other therapies on the market, experts warn. During menopause, a woman's ovaries significantly decrease production of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to symptoms like hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal and urinary problems, shifts in mood, and osteoporosis,” according to CBS. Women used to get hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat the effects of menopause but this was replaced with bioidentical hormones when HRT was shown to have serious side effects such as breast cancer.
Now research shows that bioidentical hormones also might not be safe. “The initial structure of the hormone is made from soy and yam plant chemicals, and then modified to mimic the estrogen and progestin a woman produces. It's important to note that the ways these plant extracts are found in nature are not actually identical to human hormones; they have to be altered to be absorbed by the human body. Bioidenticals can be taken in several ways, including through a patch, pill, cream and other vaginal applications,” according to CBS.
Some bioidentical hormones are FDA approved but the ones that are custom made at compounding pharmacies are not.
One doctor, who works as an endocrinologist at Columbia Medical Center warned that, “Patients should be aware of the risks that come with using products that are compounded and not FDA approved.
One of the main concerns is that the amount of each hormone used is not monitored. When treatments like these are produced in a compounding pharmacy, the final product is not FDA regulated. Compounding pharmacies themselves aren't subjected to the same quality standards as other medical production facilities that are regulated by the FDA.” CBS reports, “The FDA has been trying to crack down on compounding pharmacies after they produced contaminated steroids that caused sixty deaths and seven hundred cases of fungal meningitis.”