What do you know about bioidentical hormones? Read on. Most people know less than they think they do – including your friends, your pharmacist and maybe your doctor.
A new article in the August 2017 issue of the journal Menopause of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) concludes there needs to be way more communication about menopause treatment.
After traveling around the country speaking to women’s groups about my book, The Estrogen Window, I found what the article points out: women today often get their information about treatment from the Internet, television, and print, as well as family and social or work contacts. A healthcare provider typically isn’t the primary source of healthcare information about hormones.
And why is that? Unfortunately, many women report they are unsatisfied with information given — or in some cases not given — by their provider, and many providers do not ask if their patients use traditional drugstore hormone alternatives such as compounding pharmacy hormones.
Then the investigators looked at 100 websites advertising hormones from compounding pharmacies to see what women are being told.
They found that overall, the quality of website information was often of low and often made dubious claims that contradict scientific studies or professional society recommendations.
Over 60% of the sites claimed a lower health risk associated with hormones from compounding pharmacies than from those obtained from traditional drug stores…Not true. No data to support this claim.
Almost one in four sites noted that estrogen from compounding pharmacies protects against breast cancer…Not true. No data to support that claim either.
The investigators also found that compounded hormones were being described as “natural” and “individualized” compared with traditional drug stores, which they described as “synthetic.” Not true. Neither group of hormones are “natural.” They both come from the same plant…a chemical plant. And both can be dosed to meet a patient’s needs.
All of these things I discuss in detail in my book, The Estrogen Window and coming out September 19 in paperback as The Estrogen Fix.
There are now between 1 and 2.5 million US women aged 40+ currently using hormones obtained at traditional drug stores. That’s about 80% less than used them before a 2002 study called the WHI or Women’s Health Initiative incorrectly reported that estrogen caused breast cancer, heart disease and more.
With all the misinformation out there, it’s easy to see why many so many women use estrogen that they obtain from compounding pharmacies; they are being led to be believe they are safer, have fewer side effects and are more natural.
The authors of the study point out that in two recent surveys, less than 15% of participants realized that compounded hormones are not FDA approved. In another survey, more than three-quarters of respondents who are currently using compounded hormones believe they are safer than traditional drugstore hormones.
What makes it even more challenging for patients is that many providers are not as knowledgeable about hormones as they could be. Only 35% of Canadian pharmacists were aware that both compounding pharmacies and traditional drugstores both sell bioidentical hormones (they do), and almost a quarter of them believed compounded hormones were lower risk and had fewer side effects that hormones obtained from traditional drugstores (they don’t). Even more disheartening, over 75% of surveyed pharmacists lacked the confidence to provide patient education.
Another survey was done that included MDs, DOs, NPs and PAs was a little more encouraging. Only 9% believed compounded hormones were safer than traditional drugstore hormones, and 8% believed the “natural” quality of it would make compounded hormones better tolerated.
But less than half (45%) of the professionals surveyed were familiar with bioidentical hormones or compounded hormones and 38% didn’t prescribe them because of their lack of knowledge. In addition, of the 45% of responders who had ever prescribed them, less than half felt comfortable doing so.
So where does all this leave you? In need of good and accurate information about hormone therapy and in need of good and accurate sources of information.
That’s exactly why I wrote my book The Estrogen Window, which is coming out in paperback September 19 as The Estrogen Fix. It has received excellent reviews from many of the nation’s top menopause experts, and the North American Menopause Society, which recommended the book both for patients and for doctors in training.
Invest the time to get accurately educated on this very important aspect of menopause – hormone therapy. Time spent on you isn’t lost, it’s invested. And the ROI is health, happiness and hormonal balance.