The Safety Of Bio-Identical Hormones
by Jeffrey Dach MD
You may have seen the recent Oprah Winfrey TV show with guest, Suzanne Somers, singing praises for biodentical hormones. One question every woman asks: What is the safety of bio-identical hormones as routinely used in medical practice? Let's try to answer this question.
The Safety of Water compared to Bio-Identical Hormones
Water is safe, beneficial and required for health. Yet, even so, drinking excess amounts of water causes death from Fatal Water Intoxication.(1)
Left Image: Water with Droplets Courtesy of Wikimedia
Similarly, just like water, bio-identical hormones are safe and beneficial when used at proper dosages. Like excessive water, excessive hormone dosage may result in their own adverse side effects. Excess estrogen, for example, causes fluid retention, breast sensitivity and enlargement, and disordered mood.
Another answer to the safety question is that bio-identical hormones are found in the human body naturally. Any harmful substance in the human body would impair survival, and over millions of years of evolution would be eliminated by natural selection. This is the basic concept of Darwinian evolution which is accepted by mainstream medical science.
A 50 Million Year Medical Experiment
Consider the following medical experiment, performed over the last 50 million years with the help of our friend, Darwinian evolution.(2) Bio-Identical Hormones have been present in the human body for 50 million years, and we humans are still here on the planet. I would consider that a successful medical experiment, wouldn't you?
Either Excess or Deficiency of Anything Can be Harmful
One of our routine labs tests called the Chem Panel measures electrolytes and glucose levels in the blood. The body automatically maintains these within narrow ranges to maintain health. If levels deviate above or below these normal ranges, this causes a serious health disturbance. For example elevated potassium levels causes cardiac arrest. Magnesium deficiency causes muscle spasm and arrythmia. Excessive amounts of Vitamins A and D are toxic. Hormones levels enjoy a considerably wide range of acceptable limits. Even so, a deficiency or an excess of women's bio-identical hormones can produce adverse symptoms. This is called estrogen deficiency/excess, and progesterone deficiency/excess, and they each have typical signs and symptoms easily recognized.(3)
Common Signs of Estrogen Deficiency (4)
Difficulty falling asleep
Decreased sense of sexuality
Lessened self-image and attention to appearance
Dry eyes, skin, and vagina
Loss of skin radiance
Feel balanced 2nd part of cycle
Sagging breasts and loss of fullness
Pain with sexual activity
Increased back and joint pain
Episodes of rapid heartbeat
Headaches and migraines
Common Signs of Excess Estrogen (takes longer to notice)
Breast tenderness or pain
Increased breast size
Water retention, fingers, legs
Impatient, snappy behavior, but with clear mind
Common Signs of Progesterone Deficiency
No period at all (no ovulation)
The period comes infrequently (every few months)
Heavy and frequent periods (large clots, due to buildup in the uterus)
Spotting a few days before the period. (Progesterone level is dropping)
Breasts with lumps
Most cases of endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids.
Anxiety, irritability, nervousness and water retention