Patients often have questions about the differences between synthetic and natural hormones. Natural is a word that is sometimes overused and misunderstood. If you are looking for a natural progesterone cream or natural estrogen cream, what you are really looking for is a bioidentical hormone cream. We use the word bioidentical to describe the type of hormones we make at Woodland Hills Pharmacy. We prefer bioidentical because the word natural is often used to describe non-prescription herbal remedies that are not the same as hormone replacement and are far less effective.
Bioidentical, Synthetic, and Natural Hormones – What’s the Difference?
Bioidentical Hormones: Hormones that are made chemically identical to the human hormone molecule. They are sometimes referred to as “natural” hormones because they are derived from plants and behave like naturally produced hormones.
Synthetic Hormones: Hormones that are most often derived from the urine of pregnant horses (in the case of estrogen) and are physiologically different from human hormones.
Both synthetic and bioidentical hormones are synthesized in labs, just like many commonly used medications. However, there are important differences in how they act in your body and how they are derived. Synthetic estrogen is derived from the urine of pregnant horses while bioidentical estrogen is derived from yams. Many patients prefer using a therapy that is plant-derived, but a more important difference is how the final product behaves in your body.
Bioidentical hormones are those that behave identically to naturally produced hormones. That is why they are sometimes referred to as natural hormones. When you take a bioidentical hormone, it will show up on a blood test completely indistinguishable from natural hormones produced by your body.
Synthetics mimic human hormones and can have additional estrogen types that are not found naturally in your body. These hormones behave differently and are distinguishable from natural hormones. Many patients find that hormones that fit with their body’s natural hormones are preferable to those that only mimic natural hormones.
Why Choose Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Synthetic hormones have physiologically different effects compared to natural hormones and they each have distinct chemical structures. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has not been shown to have the same health risks and side effects that are associated with synthetic hormones. While the term “natural hormone replacement therapy” may be somewhat inaccurate, bioidentical hormones do behave in the body naturally while synthetic ones do not.
BHRT effectively improves menopausal symptoms and reduces the risk of diseases like osteoporosis that are associated with hormone decline. Additionally, bioidentical formulations from a compounding pharmacy can be made into a variety of delivery methods. Creams, capsules, and suppositories in multiple strengths are all available based on each patient’s needs. The hormones available from manufacturers are not customizable and can only be made in specific dosages.
Your healthcare provider will work with you along with a compounding pharmacist to determine the best treatment for your unique needs. We have many bioidentical hormone replacement therapy products available to view on our website.