You may be wondering what bioidentical estrogens are, and if they are safer than the regular ones you get in a drug store. Here’s what you need to make that choice.
Bioidentical means it’s exactly the same chemical structure as the estrogens you make in your body – it’s identical. And since this is biology, it’s bioidentical. There are three estrogens that the body makes: estradiol, estrone, and estriol.
Estradiol is the main one produced by the ovary. It’s there in the reproductive years and is the most potent and the most abundant of the estrogens.
The second estrogen is estrone, which is made in the fatty tissues of the body. If you have a large amount of abdominal fat, you’re fat is making a lot of this weak estrone estrogen.
The third bioidentical estrogen is called estriol. Estriol is mostly a hormone of pregnancy. The placenta makes it, so if you are not pregnant, there is not much estriol in the body.
All the other estrogens that are available to you are not bioidentical. The ones like Premarin or Cenestin are called conjugated estrogens because the tablets contain multiple non-bioidentical estrogens. Other estrogens, like the ones in birth control pills, typically are synthetic estrogens that are not conjugated or bioidentical. However, the structure of those estrogens is similar enough to bioidentical estrogen that they fool the body like a master key can open multiple locks. That’s why a hormone that has a chemical structure similar to a bioidentical one still has an effect on the body. It may be stronger, it may be weaker, or it may just be different. Bioidentical estrogens are available from both compounding pharmacies and most chain drug stores.
“Are bioidenticals safer than other estrogens? Which weighs more; a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?”
So now you may be wondering, are bioidentical estrogens safe? Do you have to worry about them at all? Ever since the Woman’s Health Initiative study (WHI) was published in 2002, women worried whether estrogens increase their risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, or cancer. To answer that question, i’ll ask you another: which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks? If you think about it, the feathers are a lot lighter, but if you get enough of them you’ll still get a full pound. So they’re the same if the amounts are equivalent.
If you are a person who’s considering taking estrogen and you want to know, “should I take a bioidentical one or should I take one that is not bioidentical,” here’s the answer to that. If you can take estrogen, all of those are going to work for you. If you can’t take estrogen, or you don’t know if you want estrogen, and you take them in equal amounts … they may not be the same number of milligrams because they are measured differently… but if the amounts are equivalent, the risk will be the same. Remember one is a pound of bricks, the other a pound of feathers. So if you get an equivalent amount of them, then their benefits and their potential risks are going to be the same.
If you have any other questions about bioidentical estrogens, please talk to your healthcare provider. Know the benefits and risks of estrogen before you take any medication.
So many women ask me about the safety of taking estrogens, how to take them and what are the alternatives to estrogen that I’ve created a special educational session called Estrogen, Non-Estrogens and Alternatives to Estrogen to address your questions, fears and concerns. To purchase this educational session, click here now.