BHRT stands for Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. You may be wondering, what does bio-identical mean, and why is this important?
Bio-identical refers to the chemical structure of the hormone. In order for a hormone to be called bio-identical, it’s structure must be exactly like the hormone that is naturally produced by the human body. Researchers have long held that the structural differences between human, synthetic, and animal hormones may be responsible for the side effects that occur when non-bio-identical hormones are used for replacement therapy. In addition, many of the protective and beneficial effects that natural hormones provide cannot be duplicated in studies where synthetic and animal products are used.
As hormones break down in our body, metabolites are formed. Our body is designed to produce essential active metabolites in this process from the hormones it naturally makes. “Differences between progestin formulations are crucial to health outcomes in women”, states Dr. R. Brenton at the University of Southern California. A woman discerning which type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to consider, basically has three choices:
- Bio-identical hormones are able to follow the normal break down pathway because their structure is identical to our natural hormones. Bio-identical hormones include estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), progesterone, testosterone, dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA), and pregnenolone.
- Synthetic hormones have side chains added to a natural substance and do not match the natural hormone. There are many synthetics available. Some include medroxyprogesterone acetate, ethinyl estradiol, and various combinations found in birth control pills.
- Animal (horse preparations) contain a complex mixture of many compounds including sodium estrone sulfate, sodium equillin sulfate (a type of estrogen found only in horses), and delta (8,9) dehydroestrone sulfate. (DHES). In fact, the hormones in the commercial product, Premarin are extracted from the urine of pregnant horses. The exact steroidal content has not been completely defined. Those components that have been identified are NOT the identical structure of our natural human hormones.
Bremo Pharmacy specially compounds BHRT products to meet the unique needs of individual women. If you are interested in learning more about this service, read about our women’s health services or call us at 804-288-8361, ext. 116.