Bioidentical Hormones For Menopause

How Do They Compare to Other Types of HRT?

Bioidentical hormones are often talked about in relation to menopause treatment. This is because they are related to normal menopause treatment – hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Still, the relationship between bioidentical hormones and HRT is not '2 different approaches to treating menopause', it's actually a bit more complicated than that...

What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

What they are – bioidentical hormones are man-made hormones that are usually extracted from plants. They are designed to be chemically identical to the hormones produced naturally in the body.

How are they taken? – bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) come in various forms, including:

  • Patches
  • Creams
  • Gels
  • Tablets
  • Injections

Why some people prefer them – they are considered by some people to be a more natural alternative to standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Standard HRT usually uses hormones that are lab-made and not identical to those made in the body.

BHRT is also considered more ‘natural’ because it is believed that the body recognises that the hormones are similar to the ones made by the body itself, so it reacts to them in the more ‘natural’ way.

They have not been found to be safer than regular HRT – a lot of experts believe the risks of BHRT and HRT are very similar, and that some forms of BHRT may even have more risks. There is currently no definitive evidence that BHRT is any more effective than HRT, although this could be because it is a relatively newer form of treatment.

What Are Bioidentical Hormones Used for?

Bioidentical hormones are used for a variety of different reasons – they are perhaps most commonly used in hormone replacement therapy – for people who have experienced symptoms of menopause, but are also used in:

  • Cases of testosterone deficiency
  • Processes of sex reassignment or gender confirmation
  • Some hormonal contraceptive pills
  • Bodybuilding

A 'natural' alternative to HRT – many people view bioidentical hormones as the more ‘natural’ alternative to other chemical hormonal treatments, like HRT. This is still up for debate, and the research is still being done on the actual risks and benefits of it as a treatment. On the other hand, we already know the benefits of HRT as well as side effects of HRT.

There has been concern about these treatments from experts in the UK – the British Menopause Society issued a statement last year to express their concern about the safety of unregulated bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, prescribed by pharmacists or clinicians without recognised menopause training. They recommend that people shouldn’t any use hormone therapies that aren’t being regulated and haven’t approved by the MHRA.

The same goes in Americathe FDA doesn’t approve the form of bioidentical hormones created by ‘compounding pharmacies’. The pharmacies make combinations of hormones that are ‘tailored’ to a specific person. Because the combinations of hormones is ‘personalised’, it means that they are unregulated and potentially unsafe.

They are still becoming increasingly popular – the demand for bioidentical hormones is growing in both the UK and the USA, but there is still a lot of concern over how safe they are, and how effective they can be.

How Are These Hormones Different From the Ones in Standard HRT?

Bioidentical hormones are marketed as more 'natural' – the big selling point to bioidentical hormones is that they are supposed to be the more ‘natural’ option to HRT, because they are chemically identical to the hormones produced by your body.

However, what many people don’t realise, is that:“Standard HRT does contain hormones that are identical to our own hormones, and most importantly they are regulated for safety.” – Dr Heather Currie, chair of The Menopause Society

Many of the standard HRT medications actually do already use hormones that are bioidentical.

Doctors don't see a medical difference – many doctors believe that, in fact, the effects of HRT and BHRT are very similar – they carry the same health risks and have similar side effects. The main difference is that HRT is heavily regulated, whereas not all of BHRT is. This is a potential safety issue because the risks associated with unregulated medications are not known, and the levels of the hormones in each product are not controlled.

Your doctor can explain bioidentical hormones to you in person – if you are interested in bioidentical hormones as a plant-based alternative to HRT, talk to your doctor in the very first instance. They will be able to advise you in your specific situation, and advise you on whether or not the treatment is safe.

Can I Buy Bioidentical Hormones Online?

You can buy bioidentical hormones online – however, when buying medication online, you should always use a properly regulated online doctor site (like Superdrug Online Doctor) with registered doctors. Otherwise, you can’t be sure the medication will work, or that’s it’s safe for you to take.

Make sure to involve a doctor – it’s always better to get an assessment from a doctor first, or at least, discuss your preferences with your GP to gain their opinion and perspective before you go ahead with any treatment option.

Trying treatment without a doctor is risky – without a doctor’s assessment beforehand, or proper check-ups to monitor your progress along the way, using bioidentical hormones bought online could put you at risk of serious health problems.

What Are the Alternatives?

Alternative HRT treatment – other than bioidentical hormones, you could choose to use traditional HRT. HRT has been proven to help many people to manage their symptoms effectively. Most importantly – traditional HRT is regulated and approved by medical health and research councils, such as MHRA. They are proven to work, and have been tested for safety.

If you decide to do HRT – you can use an online doctor service to get your prescription menopause treatment, like Superdrug Online Doctor. You could also make an appointment with your GP if you prefer.


Turner, S. (2017). The truth about bioidentical hormones for the menopause. netdoctor. [online] Available at: [accessed 5th July 2018].

Wilson, D. B. (2018). Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. healthline [online] Available at: [accessed 5th July 2018].

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