Bioidentical hormones are a type of hormone that is chemically and molecularly identical to the hormones produced naturally in the human body. They are often used in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), a treatment used to supplement low or imbalanced hormone levels in the body, usually around menopause or as part of transgender hormone therapy.
Most bioidentical hormones are made from plant chemicals extracted from yams and soy. These plant chemicals are processed in a laboratory to produce hormones such as estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, which are identical in molecular structure to those found in the human body.
Common forms of bioidentical hormones include:
- Estradiol, which can be taken orally or applied to the skin via a patch, cream, or gel.
- Progesterone, which can be taken orally, applied to the skin, or inserted into the vagina as a suppository.
- Testosterone, which can be applied to the skin via a patch, cream, or gel.
It’s important to note that while “bioidentical” suggests these hormones are more natural or safer than other forms of hormone replacement therapy, this isn’t necessarily the case. All forms of hormone replacement therapy, including those using bioidentical hormones, have potential risks and side effects. It’s crucial to discuss these potential risks and benefits with a healthcare provider before starting any hormone therapy.
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there was still ongoing debate in the medical community about the use, effectiveness, and safety of bioidentical hormones compared to traditional hormone replacement therapy.