- With Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Dr. Mary Gallenberg is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and medical oncology.
An Antigo, Wis., native, Dr. Gallenberg is a consultant in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and an assistant professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Gallenberg has been with Mayo Clinic since 1990. She was on the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource editorial board and has been honored for excellence in teaching. She also won a Mayo Clinic Excellence Through Teamwork award.
- Bleeding after menopause: Is it normal?
Treatments and drugs (3)
- Bioidentical hormones: Are they safer?
- Hormone replacement therapy: Cause of vaginal bleeding?
- Testosterone therapy in women: Does it boost sex drive?
Bioidentical hormones: Are they safer?
Are bioidentical hormones safer and more effective than hormones used in traditional hormone therapy for menopause symptoms?
from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
No, they aren't. The term "bioidentical" means the hormones in the product are chemically identical to those your body produces. In fact, they are — but so are the hormones used in many FDA-approved hormone replacement products.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several medical specialty groups, bioidentical hormones may be riskier than are hormones used in standard hormone therapy, and there's no evidence they're any more effective.
Marketers of bioidentical hormones say their products have these advantages over standard hormone therapy:
- They're derived from plant chemicals, not synthesized in a laboratory. Even though they come from plants, bioidentical hormones still need to be commercially processed to become bioidentical. Some FDA-approved products — such as Estrace, Climara patch and Vivelle-Dot patch, which contain estrogens, and Prometrium, a natural progesterone — also are derived from plants.
- They're produced in doses and forms that differ from those in FDA-approved products. For many nonstandard combinations, you need to go through a compounding pharmacy — one that specializes in making medications customized for your individual needs. However, products from compounding pharmacies haven't been subject to the same rigorous quality assurance standards that standard commercially available hormonal preparations have to meet.
- They're custom made for you, based on a test of your saliva to assess your unique hormonal needs. Unfortunately, however, the hormone levels in your saliva don't reflect the levels in your blood or correspond to menopause symptoms.
Some women may benefit from nonstandard doses and forms of hormones in bioidentical hormone preparations, but there is almost no scientific support for an advantage of these compounds over common commercially produced preparations.Next question
Hormone replacement therapy: Cause of vaginal bleeding?
- Files JA, et al. Bioidentical hormone therapy. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86:673.
- Sood R, et al. Counseling postmenopausal women about bioidentical hormones: Ten discussion points for practicing physicians. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2011;24:202.
- Bio-identicals: Sorting myths from facts. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049311.htm. Accessed Nov. 1, 2011.