Defining “bioidentical.”

There is so much confusion and misinformation when it comes to “bioidentical hormones.” Let me see if I can clarify a little:

  • “Bioidentical hormones” does not mean that the hormones are “organic.”
  • “Bioidentical hormones” does not mean that the hormones are “natural.”
  • “Bioidentical hormones” does not mean that the hormones are “not really hormones.”

“Bioidentical hormones” means that the chemical makeup of the hormones exactly matches the chemical makeup in the same hormones in your body. It can be man-made but the molecular components are exactly the same as that same hormone in your body. For example, if you look at bioidentical estrogen under a microscope it would look exactly the same as the estrogen your body makes. It could have been created all chemically, in a laboratory, but the components of the compound match your body.

“Hmmmm…” you ask, why would anyone make non-bioidentical hormones to replace those in your body. Well, for one thing bioidentical hormones can’t be patented. The same way you can’t patent water, unless you add some flavorings to it, you can’t patent estrogen unless there is something different about your estrogen. So drug companies are incented to change the chemical compound. Sometimes makers of specific hormones suggest that the difference they have made is a “good” difference and thus justify the changes. We haven’t found that to be the case. In general we find that women seem to respond better to bioidentical hormones.

But don’t worry about the drug companies. Now that many realize that women prefer the bioidentical compounds they have found ways to patent their product by developing better or unique delivery systems: a specific cream to hold the compound, a patch, a pellet.

So, if a practitioner wants to prescribe a hormone, you can discuss the options intelligently. For more information you can read these two articles, the first is authored by the Mayo Clinic and is a negatively predisposed to bioidentical hormones; the next comes out of Harvard Medical School and is more balanced. Let us know your thoughts!

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