The term bioidentical refers to utilizing hormone replacement therapy that on an elective scale is identical to what the body creates. While still only available by prescription, these compounds are made from a source of yams or soy beans and are copies of the hormones made by the human body. Frequently, standard or typical pharmacological approaches to hormone replacement therapy utilize compounds that do not occur in nature and, therefore, unexpected side effects can occur. While no pharmaceutical preparation is without some degree of risk, my observation over the years is that the bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, when done in a methodical, balanced and uniquely individualized way, has been essentially devoid of any complications or side effects compared to the standard prescription forms. For that reason alone, many physicians in the field of hormone replacement therapy have switched to the bioidentical approach given the observed clinical superiority and obvious lack of complications or side effects. In addition, preparations of this type can be much more cost-effective for many individuals.
One must think of the hormone system, or the endocrine system, as a symphony of sorts wherein each instrument needs to be played in conjunction with the others in total balance. That is, all the hormones, including the natural estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone, adrenal hormones, etc., must be in adequate balance. For that reason, it is very important to clinically measure each of the hormones initially and periodically over the course of therapy to confirm each one is in an optimal state. Being able to improve and replicate that optimal state from a physiologic perspective certainly can have life and well-being enhancing effects. In addition to the measured and expected organ and physiologic improvements such as enhancement of the immune system, cardiovascular function, metabolism, brain function and overall cellular energy production, hormone replacement therapy plays a long term preventative role as well in terms of diminishing the statistical likelihood of some of the more common infirmities of aging such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, many types of cancer, autoimmune disease, and general debility.
For women, the onset of hormone decline can sometimes be rather sudden with the abrupt onset of hot flashes, sleep disturbance, mood swings, and symptoms of skin or vaginal dryness. These symptoms tend to resolve within a fairly quick time frame when hormone levels are restored. For men, the onset of symptoms can often be very gradual over a span of five to 10 years as testosterone and other essential hormone levels gradually decline at a rate of about 10 percent per year. Given its subjectivity and gradual onset, some men are often unaware what changes have occurred. Very often it is those around them, particularly their spouse, who point out that they have become much more lethargic, much less motivated, have gained weight, have noticed a decrease in libido, poor exercise tolerance, and general overall diminishment in life enjoyment. Restoration of testosterone and other hormone levels to a more optimal and younger age will tend to diminish and mitigate those overall concerning symptoms while substantially improving overall long-term health.