What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are exactly the same as the hormones produced by a woman's body. (Other types of hormone therapy, such as those used in the WHI study, are slightly different from the hormones produced by the body.) Bioidentical hormones are sometimes called "natural" hormones, despite being synthesized in the laboratory, because they come from plant sources before being modified to resemble human hormones. Not all hormones produced by natural sources are bioidentical.

There are two types of products with bioidentical hormones:

  • Pharmaceutical products. These products have received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Quality and safety are controlled to ensure that the product is always of high quality.

  • Products made to specification. Often, when people think of bioidentical hormones, products produced especially for each person come to mind. These are made in a compound pharmacy (where the drugs are mixed according to the doctor's instructions). These products can contain different amounts of two or three types of estrogen, often mixed with other hormones. Although the individual ingredients (except estriol) have the approval of the FDA, the compounds (the final products created after having combined all the ingredients) are not. Since the FDA does not control them, they may be of low quality. The amount of the hormone can change with each batch.

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