Bio Identical Hormones - An Alternative Choice - Part 1

The latest buzz word in the medical arena is bio identical hormones. Patients are reading and learning about “natural” vs. synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Suzanne Somers, in her books, “Ageless”, “The Sexy Years”, and “Breakthrough” has raised public awareness to a new level. Whether for symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and decreased libido, women all over the country are bombarding their physicians with questions. Men too, are learning about testosterone and DHEA to retain or find their lost sex drive. How to separate hype from fact? How to know whether these therapies are for you? And does one attempt to put off aging, if that is indeed possible?

What exactly are bio identical hormones? They are hormones that have the exact same structure as the hormones made by the human body. Premarin, Provera and Prempro are synthetic hormones made by a pharmaceutical company. These are NOT exactly identical to the hormones made by the body because a drug company, by law, is not allowed to patent a bio identical substance. Therefore, in order to get a patent and sell a substance, they must change its structure.

Many people question “why replace hormones that are supposed to decrease with age?” That is like saying why take care of our teeth. As we age, without proper dental hygiene, most people would lose their teeth. Modern medicine has allowed the aged to keep their teeth. So why not take hormones to offset some of the signs and symptoms of aging? Modern medicine has prolonged the human life. It makes sense to improve the QUALITY of that life.

As a result of patient demand, pharmaceutical companies have developed topical hormone replacement therapy. Most patients equate topical creams to being bio identical. That is not true. These hormone replacement therapies are not individualized and the key to successfully using hormones is to treat the individual. Before taking any hormone replacement, it is important to take a series of blood tests that include estrogens, progesterone, testosterone (yes women need some!!), DHEA and pregnenolone. Once starting therapy, careful monitoring of bloods and symptoms allows the patient to be on the lowest dose required to alleviate symptoms.

The question most people ask is: are bio identical hormones better than synthetic? Bio identical hormones are better but they are still drugs. As we know, no drug is one hundred percent safe. However, bio identical hormones are natural and mimic the body’s own rhythm. Synthetic hormones are much more potent and can have many more side effects.

Stay tuned: Part II- Bio identical Hormones and Cancer

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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