Do Bioidentical Hormones Stop Vaginal Dryness?
Bioidentical hormones are a hot topic these days, as an ever growing number of women choose to use them to relieve a variety of annoying and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, hormone headaches and menopausal vaginal dryness.
What Are bioidentical hormones?
They’re prescription drugs that have a molecular structure identical to the hormones a woman’s body produces on its own prior to menopause. Since large pharmaceutical companies cannot legally patent a bioidentical structure, they’ve develop synthetic versions, which are patentable.
Just as younger women naturally produce two major reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, there are two categories of bioidentical hormones: those that match estrogen and the single one that matches progesterone. Women who choose to use bioidenticals usually take both.
Some bioidentical hormones are FDA-approved and available with a prescription at your neighborhood pharmacy. Others must be individually formulated, according to your doctor’s instructions, at a compounding pharmacy. Woman often choose to use bioidenticals as an alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and to avoid the real health risks associated with many over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers.
Is bioidentical hormone therapy natural?
Bioidentical hormones are not found in nature. Bioidentical estrogen, for example, is synthesized from plant chemicals extracted from yams and soy. Bioidentical progesterone is finely ground in a laboratory so that it will be more easily absorbed by the body. In these ways, bioidentical hormones are not natural. Nevertheless, bioidentical agents act inside the body just like hormones that women produce naturally. So, for example, in a blood test that measures your overall estrogen level, the bioidentical estradiol is indistinguishable from what the body has produced on its own.
Are bioidentical hormones safer than traditional hormone replacement?
Studies indicate that bioidentical hormones can help relieve hot flashes and combat the many causes of vaginal dryness. Still, few large studies have investigated the relative safety of traditional HRT versus bioidentical agents. On the other hand, because bioidentical hormones are perfect molecular replicas of your body’s own hormones, some experts say that you can metabolize them as your body was designed to, minimizing adverse side effects.
What Are “compounded” hormones?
They’re a special category of bioidentical hormones, prescribed by a doctor for patients who need individualized hormone combinations, doses or preparations. For example, if you have an allergy to one of the additives in an established FDA-approved bioidentical product, then your doctor can send you to a compounding pharmacy where they will formulate pills or creams that exclude that ingredient.
Can bioidentical hormones be used permanently?
Just as bioidentical hormones are likely as safe as more traditional regimens, some doctors caution that they probably expose women to comparable medical risk. That’s why most doctors discourage patients from using them indefinitely.
New York’s Erika Schwartz, MD, is representative of physicians who are willing to support a long-term bioidentical regimen. Dr. Schwartz has been prescribing them for 14 years and takes them herself. “I feel great and the women I work with feel great,” she says.
What’s the takeaway?
Menopause is a natural event in a healthy woman’s life. Bioidentical hormones can be part of an effort to make it comfortable and fulfilling. So can Crème de la Femme. Formulated by a woman doctor, this all-natural feminine lubricant relieves dryness and protects delicate tissue with a blend of 4 ingredients. Apply daily to keep tissue healthy. Or join the growing number of women who use it only for intercourse, as a sex lubricant. Either way, the subtle moisture will last for hours.