The problem with ‘bioidentical hormones’ for menopause – Patient

If you’ve been struggling with menopausal symptoms and looking into the options, you might well have come across private menopause clinics or compounding pharmacies offering ‘bioidentical hormones’. But what exactly are they, and how do they differ from the HRT you’d get from your GP?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has long been surrounded by controversy and confusion, despite the fact it is today recognised as an effective option for treating menopause symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings, with many of the concerns about safety allayed.

“Some people use the term bioidentical hormones when they’re talking about hormones that closely resemble the ones we naturally produce,” explains Dr Heather Currie, an associate specialist gynaecologist and former chairperson of the British Menopause Society.

When it comes to treating the menopause, she explains, the bioidentical hormones used are estradiol, the form of oestrogen that women normally produce, and micronised progesterone, which closely mimics the natural progesterone we produce.

Both of these hormones are available on the NHS as standardised, regulated HRT, which can be prescribed by your GP or British Menopause Society specialist. And this is where the confusion comes in.

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