What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Health magazines worldwide are talking about women in menopause and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). But the same question keeps popping up. What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are made in a lab from plants, and they are comprised of molecules that are the same as the endogenous hormones made in a person’s body. These are not ‘exactly’ the same, but the molecules are “identical” – ergo the name bio-identical hormones. And, bioidentical hormones are often referred to as natural hormones.

There are still a number of women who are afraid of taking hormones, and some doctors are leery as well. This is because everyone remembers the news that came out surrounding the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This government sponsored study that ended up with overly emphasized negative results released in May 2002, caused women and doctors to discontinue the use of hormone replacement therapy.

Some researchers and medical experts believe this initiative was oddly monitored and incompetently analyzed. This historic report was in fact on synthetic drugs with hormone-like effects, PremPro and Premarin, substances that were donated by the pharmaceutical company that had sold them since 1942. The assumption was the drugs would be found safe and effective, but in essence, nothing could have been further from the truth.
People can take bioidentical hormones in several ways: pills, gels, drops under the tongue, or via topical creams. There are various approaches to the dosing and blood levels and these have all been clumped together as “natural,” but the reality is that none of them are truly natural if they don’t mimic a rhythm that your body can recognize as natural in you. There is only one bioidentical hormone therapy protocol that is  biomimetic – meaning it offers a standardized rhythmic, cycling of the hormones, estrogen and  progesterone, and it does mimic the body’s rhythm. It is called the Wiley Protocol.

Many women have been experiencing great results from this rhythmically dosed bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and have happily given their personal accounts of the menopause experiences and testimonials on the Wiley Protocol website. In fact, some of them have also made comments or provided video testimonials on the Bioidenticals Channel on YouTube.
Gels, pills and drops do not pulse in our bodies, like endogenous hormones pulse. A healthy young woman’s endogenous hormones go way up and way down low and trigger different genes; genes that grow cells, stop cells from growing, and tell cells to die.

Women go through various hormone states in life; 1) young and cycling 2) pregnant, 3) breastfeeding or 4) declining hormones. Doesn’t it make sense that number 1 — young and cycling – seems to replicate that state of hormonal health the best? Why? Because the other two templates are too hard to recreate physically and experimentally.

What this means is that women cycle up to a peak of estrogen and then the body lets it fall and then brings it down again for a second smaller peak. Progesterone peaks on day 21. Healthy women have a period that lasts for five days with a heavier flow on day two and three. Therefore, one concludes bio-identical hormones can only be truly bio-identical if the hormones for replacement mimic not only those chemically found in the body, but also mimic the natural biological process as well.

What’s more, new research is focusing on healthy hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and suggests that women must cycle their hormones and have a menstrual bleed to be truly safe from cardiovascular events. According to a Danish study, a combined cyclic regimen with monthly bleeding creates a lower cardiovascular risk for women than continuous-combined estrogen/progesterone/progestin therapy, which does not cause a menstrual bleed. The study also found that overall there was no increased risk of heart attacks in current users of HRT compared to women who had never taken hormones.

The principal investigator of this research, Dr. Ellen Løkkegaard, is a gynecologist at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. She said, “The main message is that when hormone therapy is indicated for a woman, then a cyclic combined regimen should be preferred, and that application via the skin or the vagina is associated with a decreased risk of myocardial infarction.”

The observational study, the largest to look at the effects of HRT since the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial in 1991, followed 698,098 healthy 51-69 year-old Danish women.

There is rhythm to the way hormones work, and there is a beat like music. Pills, gels, drops and static dosing do not honor the music. But the Wiley Protocol biomimetic, rhythmic bioidentical hormone therapy does. When women have enough hormones they feel good, and some even feel better than they did during their entire lives.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Restoring Hormonal Balance

Customized doses of hormones have improved the quality of life for millions of women who suffer from hormonal imbalance. The ideal process for achieving hormonal balance includes an assessment of hormone levels and complete evaluation of signs and symptoms, followed by replacement of the deficient hormones in the most appropriate dose via the most effective route for each person, and monitoring to fine tune the therapy.

When using customized hormones for replacement therapy, the discussion should be based on physiology (i.e., how the body responds to hormonal stimuli, or too much or too little of a given hormone) versus pharmacology (the study of how drugs affect the various body systems, including side effects) – because Hormones Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the replacement of deficient hormones with hormones that are chemically identical to those that the body naturally produces, but which have declined due to aging or illness.

Women Prefer Natural Hormones

Mayo Clinic researchers surveyed 176 women taking natural micronized progesterone who had previously taken synthetic progestin (MPA) to see if progesterone, when compared to synthetics, improved the women’s overall quality of life, menopausal symptoms, and satisfaction with HRT. After one to six months, the women reported an overall 34% increase in satisfaction on micronized progesterone compared to their previous HRT, reporting these improvements: 50% in hot flashes, 42% in depression, and 47% in anxiety. Micronized progesterone was also more effective in controlling breakthrough bleeding. In other studies, women using micronized progesterone had specific improvements in the areas of cognition, sleep, and menstrual problems whereas the patients using MPA did not.

Androgens (Testosterone, DHEA) for Women

While millions of women have benefited from therapy with natural estrogens and progesterone, concerned researchers and health care professionals realize that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to achieving hormonal balance.

Typically thought of as male hormones, androgens are a class of hormones that include DHEA and testosterone, which are normally produced in a young healthy woman, and are important for libido as well as integrity of skin, bone, and muscle. When women are menopausal, testosterone and DHEA levels may also decline. Experts now recognize the importance of supplementing androgens for women who are deficient.