What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

A great deal of confusion exists regarding the use of the term “bio-identical”,  particularly as it applies to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.   The term “bio-identical”, when used in regard to these and other important hormones, simply means that molecule for molecule they are absolutely “identical” to hormones produced by the human body.

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding the topic of hormone replacement therapy, and it seems as if every few months another set of contradictory results from another clinical trial is published, some saying that HRT has benefits, and others proclaiming its dangers.   It is not surprising, therefore, that many women are confused and unsure whether or not they should embark on this kind of treatment, and if so, when and for how long.

It is very important to remember that all of these studies have involved pharmaceutical hormones that are not identical on a molecular level to what the human body produces.  For instance, one of the most-prescribed standard pharmaceutical estrogen replacements, used in many trials, is formulated from the urine of pregnant horses, and contains a mixture of horse estrogens.

It would not seem logical, or potentially beneficial, to have human women taking a preparation synthesized from horse hormones. In addition to its incompatibility with human female physiology, the pharmaceutical preparation is much more potent than the estrogen a woman would have naturally in her body or the bio-identical hormones that are typically prescribed.  This incompatibility can cause many issues with problematic side effects, some of which could be potentially quite dangerous.

The use of standard pharmaceutical synthetic progesterone can also be problematic.  It differs greatly from what is naturally produced in a woman’s body,and thus from bio-identical progesterone.

Depending on a woman’s individual physiology and symptomology, Dr. Allen will in most cases prescribe a combination treatment of bio-identical estrogen and progesterone.  This combination bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can markedly reduce menopausal symptoms and restore and re-balance the fluctuating hormone levels found in mid-life.

Studies have also shown that use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can reduce a woman’s risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis, memory loss and even cancer.  Many women also report that they are less depressed and prone to anxiety, as progesterone in particular can have a marked calming and mood-stabilizing effect.

Bio-identical progesterone can also be used in younger women for the treatment of PMS, and can produce often dramatic relief from such symptoms as breast tenderness, headaches, anxiety and irritability, mood swings, depression, and inability to function normally.

Dr. Allen has customized bio-identical hormone formulas available in his office for his patients. If you prefer, he can provide you with a prescription for any indicated hormones, which you can then take to any compounding pharmacy of your choice to be filled.

Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is also an important treatment modality for men.  As a man ages, his levels of testosterone continue to diminish; this is a process that can begin as soon as one’s early 30s.  He may begin to notice such symptoms as: fatigue; loss of muscle mass and strength; low libido; erectile dysfunction and depression, among others.  Replenishing the testosterone that is being lost can often produce dramatic improvements in a man’s physical, sexual and emotional health.

Believe it or not, women need testosterone too, albeit in smaller amounts than men.  Generally prescribed in a trans-dermal cream that is rubbed into the skin, an individualized low dose of testosterone can often help improve a woman’s libido, energy level, and the strength of her muscle and bone structure.

Dr. Allen will also measure a patient’s levels of other important substances, such as thyroid hormones, DHEA and HGH (human growth hormone) to determine if his or her levels are less than optimal.  He will then create an individualized treatment regimen that will balance these vital hormones as well.








Dr. Allen gives free lectures at the Library three to four times each year, on topics of interest from the cutting edge of integrative medicine.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list for these lectures and his other speaking engagements, please email da@davidallenmd.com.