A Look At Bioidenticals

Generic Health : Menopause, woman over a female symbol and caduceus
AP / CBS
To control the symptoms of menopause, women took synthetic estrogen replacement therapy. It promised strong bones, healthy hearts and cancer-free golden years. Instead, it increased many women's health risk. But are biologically identical natural estrogens any safer?

What Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?

Bioidenticals are synthetic hormones used instead of traditional hormones for menopause. They are derived from soy and yam extracts, and are structurally identical to those hormones found in a woman's body. However, they are not approved by the FDA.

Sales of custom-compounded hormonal preparations took off after the safety of commercially manufactured estrogen and progestin-based treatments were called into question in the summer of 2002.

What Did The Women's Health Initiative Study Show?

The 2002 Women's Health Initiative was a large, multitiered clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. It reported that hormone replacement therapy actually posed more health risks than benefits for women in the clinical trial. As the number of health hazards attributed to hormone replacement therapy grew, doctors discontinued routine prescriptions for this popular treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What Are Some Recommended Strategies To Cope With Hot Flashes And Night Sweats?

According to WebMD, some alternative treatments include:
  • Wearing layered cotton clothing
  • Avoiding coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods
  • Reducing stress with deep breathing exercises, medication, or yoga
  • Sipping cool drinks throughout the day and using ice packs
  • Getting regular exercise
  • To learn more about menopause:

    • Click here to read more about menopause from The Women's Health Initiative.

    • The North American Menopause Society, the leading nonprofit scientific organization devoted to understanding menopause, has useful information about bioidenticals.

    Dr. Erika Schwartz, a physician and
    patient advocate with 31 years of clinical experience can help answer you questions about menopause.

    • Click here to read an interview with Dr. Isaac Schiff, Joe Vincent Meigs Professor of Gynecology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital

    • Read about the benefits and disadvantages of hormone replacement therapy from the Mayo Clinic.