Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Safe?
Chances are you’ve heard all the good stuff about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) pellets, and you think the benefits for men and women sound amazing—more energy, better sex drive and performance, stronger mental clarity and improved muscle tone and mass, to name just a few.
But maybe you still have concerns—like, how can you be sure BHRT pellets are really safe?
Let’s dig into your key questions, and see what the experts have to say.
What exactly are bioidentical hormones?
Just to recap … hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands in your body. They control almost all your physiological functions—like blood sugar regulation, growth, brain function, and of course sex.
When hormone levels aren’t what they should be, a person can experience certain problems and symptoms. For men, low testosterone can leave you feeling lethargic, worried about low sex drive, and even struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED). For Women, hormone imbalances involving testosterone and estrogen can create fatigue, loss of libido, weight management issues, anxiety, depression, muscle weakness and more!
Historically, hormone deficiency problems were treated using synthetic hormones derived from animal extracts. Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, are substances that are identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced inside the human body. They can be used to treat people whose natural levels of hormones aren’t optimal.
Some prescription forms of bioidentical hormones are pre-made by drug companies at set doses. Other forms—including the bioidenticals used in pellet therapy—are custom-made for a patient’s individual needs by a specialist compounding pharmacist working closely with the patient’s doctor.
Are BHRT pellets more effective than synthetic hormone therapy?
The big advantage of bioidentical hormone pellet therapy is that the treatment is more precisely tailored to your unique needs. Your blood is tested, and your doctor prescribes exactly the dose of bioidentical testosterone and/or estrogen you need, which is then made up into small rice sized pellets by a compounding pharmacist.
These tiny pellets are then carefully positioned just under the skin, most commonly in the upper buttock area, where they gently release the bioidentical testosterone and/or estrogen into your bloodstream at a steady rate over the next 4 to 6 months.
That means you don’t get the uncomfortable spikes and dips in hormone level that synthetic injectables, patches, and creams can cause—just efficient and effective delivery of all the benefits, customized to your body.
Is BHRT a more ‘natural’ choice?
Bioidentical hormones are made from substances extracted from plants like soybeans and yams—as opposed to the completely synthetic forms offered in most conventional hormone replacement therapies.
Because plant compounds are different to those our bodies make, the plant molecules are compounded in the lab so that they’re structurally identical to the testosterone and estrogen molecules produced in your body.
And so, because of the compounding process of the soy and yam to create the bioidentical testosterone and estrogen — I wouldn’t say they’re completely ‘natural’ in the traditional sense — BUT because your body can’t tell the difference between the compounded testosterone and estrogen and the testosterone and estrogen it produces itself, we see it respond to the bioidenticals in a completely natural way.
Is BHRT approved by the FDA?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has actually been used in the United States since 1938, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several preparations that have been tested for safety and purity, and to be sure each dose has the same amount of hormones.
The compounded forms, like pellet therapy, can’t be tested and approved by the FDA, because they’re not in standard doses—they are necessarily blended on a case-by-case basis for each patient.
But custom hormone combinations usually include blends of the exact same ingredients found in FDA-approved bioidentical products, and are manufactured according to the same requirements of the United States Pharmacopeia (a nongovernmental authority that sets standards for prescription and over-the-counter drugs). So in practice there’s no reason to think that custom-compounded pellets would have a different safety profile to FDA-approved bioidentical products.
To be assured of quality, the executive director of the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, L.D. King, suggests that patients and doctors select an accredited compounding pharmacy from those listed on the Pharmaceutical Compounding Accreditation Board website, and ask questions about the types of quality assurance procedures they have in place.
What are the side effects of bioidentical hormone pellets?
One of greatest advantages of BHRT pellet therapy is the low incidence of side effects. Extremely rarely, patients might have slight bruising, minor bleeding, infection, or extrusion of the pellets, but that’s all that’s been reported. Unlike conventional or synthetic hormone replacement therapy, pellets do not appear to increase the risk of blood clots.
Although there hasn’t yet been a large study, there’s evidence from numerous small-scale studies worldwide documenting the benefits and safety of BHRT, as well as a much lower incidence of side effects when compared with conventional drugs.
For answers to your specific questions on BHRT pellet therapy and how it could transform your life, get in touch with us at Genesis Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, and talk to one of our hormone therapy experts. We’d be delighted to discuss what might be most appropriate for you.