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“Bioidentical Hormones” – Should I be on them?

What are “bioidentical hormones”?
In factual terms, it means a hormone identical to what the body makes.  Various FDA-approved and tightly-regulated standard therapies fit this discription.  HOWEVER, the term has been used by some to describe non-standardized (i.e., non-FDA approved) hormone therapies that are made by compounding pharmacies.  This means that a pharmacy will mix up a bunch of ingredients and make a formulation specifically for you.  The pharmacy will decide how much “bioidentical” hormone you need based on unreliable hormone tests performed on the saliva.  These tests are also not approved for use and are cash only in most cases.  Ordering medical providers are usually not endocrinologists, but rather naturopaths and chiropractors.  In short, these therapies are potentially harmful.  The FDA ruled the term "bioidentical" to be a marketing term and not one of scientific or medical merit.  The Endocrine Society (www.endo-society.org) also does not recommend the use of these therapies since the safety and efficacy remain in doubt.  Clever marketing gives people the impression that “natural” or “identical” hormones are safe and have no side effects–nothing could be further from the truth.  We must remember that drugs such as Digitalis and Atropine are naturally-found chemicals that in the wrong doses or formulation are poison to humans.