The Oprah Winfrey – Bioidentical Hormones Connection
Oprah Winfrey has been lately hyped up about healthy lifestyles, and one of the things she talked about is the use of bioidentical hormones to improve her menopausal stage symptoms. These are hormones that are used to help women during their menopausal years and allow them to have a healthy lifestyle.
During her menopausal years Oprah actually depleted here hormonal stores, so a doctor gave her a prescription for bioidentical estrogen. However, she does not recommend this treatment for all menopausal women, instead she encourages others who may be having the same experience as hers to take control of their health and begin to talk about the menopause and the possibility of considering bioidentical hormones.
This form of therapy has received some controversies and can often confuse people. What’s the big deal with Bioidentical hormones, anyway?
Bioidentical Hormones – The Basics
Many people are confused about the term bioidentical. These are preparations containing hormones that are exactly the same, chemically, as those that humans naturally produce.
The FDA has approved some of these company made hormones and can be bought at standard doses; some however, are made by special compounding pharmacies that prepare the hormones according to patient needs – these are not FDA approved.
Why doesn’t FDA approve compounded bioidentical hormones?
The FDA approves only standardized preparations, and since these compounded products are not uniformly standardized, they cannot earn FDA approval; some patients may be allergic to additives in FDA approved products, these patients will need to have their hormones custom-made and hence need to go to a compounding pharmacy.
These compounded bioidentical hormones are not bad. To note however is the fact that since these compounded products are not FDA approved, then they would not have the same warnings as other FDA approved hormone therapies. Compounding pharmacies are not required to give out these warnings because their products are not FDA approved. A safe way to avail of these compounded products is to refer to the accredited list of pharmacies provided online by the Pharmaceutical Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB) which supervises the operation of these pharmacies and make sure that they adhere to a high level of practice and costly quality control procedures.
There are not many accredited compounding pharmacies yet, so clients should also inquire about the quality assurance procedures of other pharmacies.
FDA approved bioidentical preparations allow most women to take these drugs except for those with dose intolerance and additive allergies.
Which are safer, compounded bioidentical hormones or FDA approved preparations of the drug?
Some compounding pharmacies have received warning letters from the FDA for their misleading safety and benefit claims so there is no reason to surmise that the products provided by these clinics are any way different in terms of safety from FDA approved products.
At the moment, there is no medical proof that compounded preparations are more effective or safer compared to FDA approved products. There is a possibility that these are safer, unfortunately, there is no evidence to support this claim at the moment.
What is confirmed though, is that there are studies that show that bioidentical hormone therapy is safer compared to other hormone therapies although the body of work done to support this claim is not that substantial yet. As with other hormonal therapies, the concerns are basically the same.
Taking a compounded bioidentical hormone can be risky and people need to understand these risks because compounding is not for everybody, but there are people who are genuinely in need of these kinds of drugs.
Bioidentical Hormones Safety Issues
The risk of breast cancer has been affined with any type of hormone therapy so women should opt to use a low dose of these drugs for the shortest possible period of time. This study had tested only on other hormone therapies and not bioidentical hormone therapy; this doesn’t mean that bioidentical hormones are any different; it’s just that no study has been conducted on these products yet.
Estradiol, a bioidentical hormone, is the hormone produced by female ovaries and can be prescribed in skin patch form which delivers the exact dose required.
There is however, a need to go to a doctor who has been trained in the bioidentical field to ensure that you get the best medical attention that you require.
Has the FDA approved saliva and blood tests?
Saliva and blood tests are FDA approved as diagnostic procedures, but not for the specific purpose of hormone treatment; these diagnostic procedures have not been approved for use in testing hormone levels and to adjust hormone therapy because hormone levels can fluctuate throughout the day.
Some doctors are not confident with saliva testing in relation to hormonal levels; blood tests are more accurate for this specific end.
What can be said of Oprah Winfrey’s experience?
Each patient should be treated individually, and Oprah’s experience in particular is a positive result of this individual and customized treatment.
There are some patients who feel good after initial hormone therapy but there is no telling if bioidentical treatments would give them an extra boost.
Sometimes, the diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits are what the issues are as opposed to the perceived condition of hormonal imbalance.
Bioidentical hormones are a welcome innovation, but there is still the need to address the needs of the patient on a holistic level, in other words, all aspects of the patient should be considered during treatment.