Both synthetic and bioidentical hormone replacement therapies (BHRT) are intended to provide relief for men and women during the transitional years of menopause and andropause, however the methods are very different in terms of safety and how they affect the body.
The bioidentical or natural hormone is identical in chemical structure to the hormone naturally produced by the body. They are derived from plant tissues and are scientifically engineered in laboratories to precisely match the human hormone, molecule for molecule; we refer to them as natural because they are natural to the human body. They are compounded into creams, gels, and pills to help your body absorb them more easily.
On the other hand, synthetic hormones have a structure that is similar but not exactly the same as a hormone produced by the body. These chemical differences mean that the synthetic hormone acts differently and produces substantially different effects.
Natural and synthetic hormones are entirely different and should not be used interchangeable. A multitude of studies have demonstrated many harmful effects of synthetic hormones whereas the medical literature supports no harmful effects of natural hormones, only beneficial effects.
The explanation involves politics, economics, and the powerful pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Pharmaceutical companies cannot patent bioidentical compounds; they can however, patent synthetic hormones. They are highly profitable.
A patent guarantees them an exclusive right to manufacture and profit from their product, therefore little research and marketing goes into natural hormones. Much of what physicians know about drugs comes directly from pharmaceutical companies promoting a product. Because pharmaceutical companies don’t manufacture bioidentical hormones, most physicians do not learn about them unless they do personal research.
The pure biologically identical (human Identical) hormone is extracted from plants, such as soy and yams or synthetically manufactured. What is most important is that the end product is a molecule identical to the hormone molecule found naturally in the human body. This applies to all hormones—thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA.
There is a special type of pharmacy known as a compounding pharmacy that can do more—not just provide you with drugs from pharmaceutical companies. The compounding pharmacist acquires pure pharmaceutical grade hormone and compounds it into the dose and form ordered by the physician. They produce pills, capsules, liquids and creams from the doctor’s prescription order for you. This is what makes your program very customized and personalized.