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Dr. Margaret Gedde,
MD, PhD

What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?

Natural or bioidentical hormone therapy uses hormones found naturally in the human body to bring the body back to a healthful hormonal state.

The hormones are used in amounts and patterns that reproduce natural healthy physiology. Therapy is tracked through testing, and is customized and fine-tuned based on each person’s symptoms and health goals.

What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are hormones found naturally in the human body. Examples are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone.

How are bioidentical hormones different from other hormones?

Some prescribed hormones are found in nature, but not in the human body. An example is Premarin, which is horse estrogen. Other products called hormones are not found anywhere in nature. An example is medroxyprogesterone (Provera). These chemicals have hormone-like actions, but they are not truly hormones. Bioidentical hormone replacement uses only hormones that are naturally found in the human body.

Where do bioidentical hormones come from - what is the source?

Bioidentical hormones are made from precursors found in plants, typically wild yam or soy. The precursors are modified in a laboratory until they precisely match the hormones made by the human body.

What are the benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement?

For menopausal women, replacing lost estrogen and progesterone can relieve menopausal symptoms, prevent osteoporosis, protect cardiovascular health and prevent mental decline. For younger women, it can restore normal menstrual cycles and correct perimenopausal imbalances. In men, supplementation with testosterone (along with improvement of estrogen metabolism) can restore mood, vigor, muscle mass and sexual function.

To gain these benefits and avoid creating further imbalances, hormone replacement must be carefully monitored by a knowledgeable practitioner. Hormone replacement is powerful and in all cases should be taken seriously.

Don’t hormones cause cancer?

Natural hormones in balance do not cause cancer. Out-of-balance hormones and hormone-like chemicals not found in nature do encourage cancers.

It is important to understand that cancers arise in the body all the time. The difference between a person who gets cancer (has a cancer large enough to cause problems) and a person who does not get cancer is that the second person’s body is able to destroy the cancers that arise before they grow.

Doesn’t estrogen cause endometrial cancer?

Giving a women estrogen without balancing it with progesterone is known to promote endometrial cancer. This is not a problem with estrogen, it is a problem with out-of-balance hormones. Excess estrogen creates an unhealthy state of estrogen dominance.

Estrogen dominance is also common in the 10-15 years preceding menopause because progesterone production drops rapidly during these years, but estrogen levels decline more slowly. This can cause a number of problems including heavy bleeding, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. Natural hormone balancing reestablishes a healthy hormone mileau and prevents or improves these conditions.

Didn’t the Women’s Health Initiative show that hormone replacement causes cancer?

The Women’s Health Initiative study arm that used horse estrogen plus medroxyprogesterone was stopped because this treatment increased breast cancer. The arm of the study that used horse estrogen alone did not increase cancer and was not stopped. This shows that medroxyprogesterone, a chemical not found in nature, was the problem.

WHI did not study bioidentical hormone replacement or natural hormone balancing. Many feel that the results would have been very different - significant benefits of therapy would have been seen - if properly monitored and individualized bioidentical hormone therapy had been studied.

I have heard that women who have more estrogen exposure in their lifetime, such as those who start menstruating early, have a higher risk of cancer. Doesn’t that mean that estrogen causes cancer and that it is dangerous to supplement with estrogen?

The connection between lifetime estrogen and breast cancer is a solid statistic, but it doesn’t explain why the highest rate of breast cancer occurs after menopause, when women no longer make estrogen. If estrogen causes cancer, shouldn’t the highest rate be in menstruating women? It may be that the balance of estrogen and progesterone is the important factor. How estrogen is metabolized may also be important. Natural hormone balancing reestablishes healthy hormone balance and metabolism.

I have a cancer that is stimulated by hormones. My doctor says I can never take hormones of any kind.

Some cancers are fed by specific hormones. The hormone did not cause the cancer, but it could encourage the cancer to grow; so persons with certain cancers may choose to avoid hormone supplementation.

However, healthy, balanced hormones create a environment that helps the body to destroy cancers. Also, lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, stress management and emotional habits powerfully affect whether a cancer evades the body’s defenses or the body is able to destroy it.

If you have had breast, uterine or prostate cancer, the decision of whether to supplement with hormones should be made after considering all the ways you can support your body’s healthy defenses, and after thoughtful discussion with your doctor. In all cases, use only bioidentical hormones, and carefully monitor your therapy and results.

 

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Dr. Margaret Gedde, MD, PhD
Gedde Whole Health, LLC

Mailing Address:
8601 W. Cross Dr. #F5-183
Littleton, CO USA 80123

Phone & Fax: (877) 237-8571

Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.

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Revised 09/30/2013