At one time, doctors were taught that hormone replacement therapy - hormones offered in a synthetic form in a variety of names, dosages, shapes, and colors - prevented heart disease, discouraged wrinkled skin, preserved cognitive performance, built strong bones, and caused few side effects. Almost all women going through menopause were encouraged by their doctors to go on some type of hormone replacement therapy. Then in 2002 came the results of the Women’s Health Initiative, a large women’s study, that looked at the effects of synthetic hormone replacement therapy (Premarin and Prempro - neither of which are bioidentical hormone forms). Although the evidence of the study took the medical community by surprise, they confirmed what I had believed and taught all along.
The data indicated that synthetic hormone replacement did not decrease a woman’s chance of getting heart disease as originally thought, but rather definitively increased her risk of blood clotting, stroke, and breast cancer. Bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies cannot patent a bioidentical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable. Examples of the most widely prescribed synthetic hormones are Premarin, Prempro and Provera. Though bioidentical hormones have been around for years, most practitioners are unfamiliar with them. There are several branded versions now available for use in the kind of hormone replacement therapy typical of synthetic hormones. This is generally a one-size-fits-all dosage regimen. The greatest appeal of bioidentical hormones is that they are natural, and the body can metabolize them as it was designed to do, minimizing side effects. Synthetic hormones are quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects. Bioidentical hormones match individually to each woman’s needs — something that is impossible with mass-produced products.
At Integrative Health Group, we have had the greatest success with an individualized approach. We begin a gradual dosing schedule of hormones in a form of delivery much more precise than a hormone cream. Each patient is then monitored carefully through follow-up visits to ensure that symptom relief is being experienced at the lowest possible dosage. We have helped many women rediscover the bliss of balanced hormones with safe and effective bio-identical hormones and without the risks of synthetic hormones.