Compounded versus bioidentical hormonal replacement

The hormonal changes of menopause result in changes in metabolism and body composition, and many women find it difficult to lose weight. Additionally, women may experience a wide variety of symptoms such as anxiety, cognitive issues, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Menopause also can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome. Hormonal replacement therapy can help the metabolic changes and can improve the symptoms associated with menopause. Estrogen therapy can also prevent significant bone loss after menopause. However, there are potential side effects including breast cancer and clotting issues that women need to be aware of.

There are two kinds of bioidentical hormone replacement therapies. The first kind is pharmaceutical, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical companies in standard doses. These hormones can be dispensed in different forms and formulations including skin patches, gels, and creams. Bioidentical hormones, whether pharmaceutical or compounded, mimic the way the body’s natural hormones are released directly into the bloodstream. However, some women are unable to take advantage of the benefits associated with topical formulations, as they may experience skin irritations. Hormones taken by mouth are not considered bioidentical, as they go straight to the liver where they undergo biochemical changes.

The second kind of bioidentical hormones are compounded hormones. These, are prone to a greater degree of human error, as they are carefully formulated by a pharmacy using synthetic hormones. They are available in gel forms, but also in troches, taken sublingually (under the tongue). The doses are not standard doses, as in pharmaceutical forms, and can be adjusted according to the patient’s needs. Always use a trustworthy compounding pharmacy for your hormones.

For many women, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is more effective than the compounded forms. However, for many other women, fine tuning of the dose of the hormone is crucial for optimal symptom benefits. And as a result, these women prefer the compounded forms. Be sure to discuss all menopausal symptoms as well as benefits and side effects of the type of hormone replacement therapy that your doctor has suggested to ensure that you are provided with the best treatment for a better quality of life.

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