Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is an excellent option for women and men who experience difficult symptoms as a result of a hormonal imbalance. Some hormonal imbalances occur in response to certain medications, medical procedures or surgeries. The majority of individuals face changes in hormone levels as they age, however. These are natural processes that occur, as the body no longer needs the same amount of hormones for things like reproduction, energy, muscle mass, or competitive behavior (men). Some individuals weather hormonal fluctuations with few if any symptoms or complications. Others however, experience physical or emotional discomfort that negatively impacts everyday living.
While BHRT is not for everyone, many individuals benefit from this form of hormone replacement therapy. Rather than merely treating symptoms, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy works to balance hormones naturally, with as few side effects as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much will bioidentical hormone therapy cost?
Bioidentical hormone therapy is an affordable option for many men and women, combining a comprehensive custom treatment plan, with high quality compounded ingredients and complete follow-up patient care. The average treatment plan costs vary from $250-$500 per month depending on lab costs, insurance eligibility, prescriptions and supplements.
Treatment including creams, gels, pills, and patches ranges from $45-$150, monthly per prescription. Pellet therapy, lasting 3 to 5 months is more costly, ranging from $195-$350 per insertion.
Initially, treatment costs are higher due to comprehensive lab panels necessary to assess body function and root causes of hormonal imbalances. An initial consultation with a physician is necessary to review medical history, symptoms, health goals and lab results. At this time, an overall treatment plan will be created.
Q. What are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are structurally identical to those naturally produced by the body. While both bioidentical and synthetic hormones are synthesized in a laboratory, only bioidenticals match the body’s molecular make up. Depending on your specific hormonal needs, you may be prescribed bioidenticals containing estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, DHEA, melatonin, or other hormones.
Q. Who needs hormone replacement therapy with bioidenticals?
Men and women who benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy often have hormone imbalances due to natural life changes such as menopause, or “andropause” (male menopause). While laboratory testing is the only sure way to identify hormonal imbalances, signs and symptoms include depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, loss of hair, weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, and anxiety. Not every individual will need bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but a trained physician will make that determination based on lab results and patient information.
Q. At what point in my life, should I consider hormone therapy with bioidentical hormones.
While both men and women begin to lose hormones as early as the mid- 20’s, most hormone imbalance symptoms do not present until the late 30’s and early 40’s. At this time, the significance of a hormonal imbalance becomes apparent as more symptoms begin to surface.
Q. What is the difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormones?
Synthetic hormones synthesized in pharmaceutical labs only vary by dosage, as prescribed by a medical doctor. At a molecular level, these patented hormones are the same for every patient and only mimic endogenous hormones. This may cause uncomfortable side effects without the same efficacy as bioidenticals. Bioidentical hormones are structurally identical to the body’s natural hormones, designed for maximum potency with fewer side effects. Dosages of BHRT are tailored to meet individual patient needs as well.
Q. What ingredients are contained in bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are made from the natural hormones produced by plants such as, soybeans and wild yams. These are structurally identical to those in the human body. Other ingredients are then added to the hormones to formulate specific delivery methods such as, creams, lotions, gels, pellets, etc. The pharmacy may be able to provide a complete ingredient list to patients.
Q. When can I expect to see results from bioidentical hormones?
The majority of patients begin to feel better within the first few months of bioidentical treatment. Some individuals may take longer to respond to hormone therapy, however. While each individual will react differently to bioidenticals, patients may experience an improvement in sleep patterns and energy levels first. Correcting hormonal imbalances takes time and consistent treatment before optimal results are achieved.
Q. Are bioidentical hormones approved and regulated by the FDA?
While the FDA does not specifically approve bioidentical drugs as a whole, state-licensed pharmacies that practice compounding methods are overseen at the state level in day-to-day operations. The FDA does approve bioidentical estrogen and progesterone that is not compounded or customized for specific individuals.
Q. Is a prescription necessary for bioidentical hormone therapy?
Yes. A physician or other healthcare practitioner must prescribe bioidentical hormones and determine the proper strength and delivery method needed
Q. What is a compounding pharmacy?
A compounding pharmacy specializes in the creation of tailor-made prescriptions that combine two or more substances together. Quality of ingredients, competency of the pharmacist, and customer service satisfaction all affect decisions when choosing one compounding pharmacy over another.
Q. Will bioidentical treatment interfere with any of my currently prescribed medications?
In most cases bioidenticals will not interfere with other prescription medications. Drugs containing hormones, such as birth control pills and certain acne medications, may interact with bioidenticals however, so it is important to notify a physician prior to treatment. After bioidentical hormone therapy, some prescriptions may be discontinued under a doctor’s care as well.
Q. Will I have to take these hormones forever?
That depends. A number of factors impact hormone health including genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Treatment plans may encompass nutrition, physical activity, and supplemental support. Some patients may be able to discontinue hormone therapy eventually, however.
Q. What side effects are associated with bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormone therapy can cause limited side effects that are generally dosage related. Once hormone levels become balanced, bioidentical dosages may be reduced.
Some side effects reported include:
(Both sexes, testosterone)
Itching or redness at injection/insertion site.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can change the way we experience periods of great imbalance in our lives. By offering women and men a healthy alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy, bioidenticals work in synergy with the body’s own natural processes to balance chemistry and create a sense of overall well-being.
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1“Bio-Identical Hormones.” Bio-Identical Hormones | Center for Health Promotion | Loma Linda University, publichealth.llu.edu/chp/preventive-medicine/bio-identical-hormone-replacement. Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
2Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Compounding – Compounding and the FDA: Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research,
3www.fda.gov/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/pharmacycompounding/ucm339764.htm. Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
4“Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/mht-fact-sheet. Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
5Publications, Harvard Health. “What are bioidentical hormones?” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/what-are-bioidentical-hormones. Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.