What is the buzz regarding the bio-identical hormone therapy? Why is it always being seen in newspapers and magazines? Is this a natural and safe alternative to the basic menopausal symptoms or is it a standard risk to the menopause treatment? Well, interest in hormone replacement therapy started to take off in 2002 when a study called the WHI or the Women's Health Initiative was halted after researchers discovered an increased risk of heart attack, breast cancer, stroke and other cardiovascular problems in post-menopausal women while taking HRT. The hormone that was used in the trial was an FDA-approved combination of non-bio identical estrogen and progesterone. Since then, many women stopped taking hormone replacement therapy and went to look for some other alternatives.
What is the controversy regarding the bio-identical hormone replacement therapy?
While the individual ingredients that are most likely being used by compounding pharmacies are all approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, but the actual finished product is not. Prescription pharmaceuticals are usually FDA regulated and are guaranteed to be of the same strength as it is. The controversy is usually about the safety of hormone replacement therapy. The question is whether or not this treatment is safe for women or whether it will give rise to even more diseases. However, at the current moment, there are many women and celebrities who use this therapy as the best one to stay and look young.
What does FDA say about the bio-identical hormone replacement therapy?
FDA or the Food and Drug Administration has an opinion about the bio-identical hormone therapy and this is what they have to say.
- Since compounded bio-identical hormones aren't approved by FDA, the federal government doesn't put them through safety evaluations. While the drug companies are needed to include some kind of safety warnings on drug labels and report the adverse side-effects, the compound pharmacies aren't required to do either.
- The preparation methods can vary from one drug company another and from one pharmacy to another. Hence it might happen that women may not get adequate amounts of hormones as needed.
- There are some compounded hormone preparations that contain estriol, a very weak estrogen that isn't FDA approved for using in any drug.
- A woman's prescription is often based on results of saliva hormone testing that is done at the pharmacy. The FDA says that this test shouldn't be used to adjust hormone doses as hormone levels are unpredictable and may vary greatly.
- In spite of some claims from marketers, bio-identical hormones can't cure Alzheimer's disease, cancer or heart diseases.
- The NAMS or North American Menopause Society says that although custom-compounded hormones might relieve menopausal symptoms, they should be used only by the women who can't tolerate the drugs that are approved by the FDA.
The pros of Hormone Replacement therapy
Have a look at some of the most common benefits of hormone replacement therapy:
- Prevents bone loss which might lead to osteoporosis
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer
- Relieves symptoms of menopause
- Lowers the risk of macular degeneration, loss of vision that occurs when the macula gradually deteriorates with age.
The cons of Hormone replacement therapy
Here are some cons of hormone replacement therapy:
- Increased risk of endometrial cancer
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Increased risk of stroke
- Increased risk of gallbladder disease
- Increased risk of blood pressure
So, if you wish to get hormone replacement therapy done, you can get it done from a trusted physician who is experienced in this field. Measure the pros and cons before making the decision.